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m-iu. i?.3.ij 




HARVARD 
COLLEGE 
LIBRARY 




^^ 




4L, 




THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 



,1 



THE 

STORY OF A SHORT LIFE 

JULIANA HORATrA EWING 

ILLUSTRATED 



BOSTON 

JOSEPH KNIGHT COMPANY 

1894 



A\L\- (IcA'i.'t.W 



HARVARD COUdC UBtARY 

GIFT OF 

■it. 6E0li6E PtABOOY QARDNEI 

NOV. 15, 1»39 



Copyright, 1893 

BY 

Joseph Knight Company 



** But the fair guerdon when we hope to find, 
And think to burst out into sudden blaze, 
Comes the blind Fury with the abhored shears 
And slits the thin spun life, — ' But not the praise.' " Milton. 

' ' It is a calumny on men to say that they are roused to heroic action by 
ease, hope of pleasure, recompense, — sugarplums of any kind in this 
world or the next ! In the meanest mortal there lies something nobler. . . . 
Difficulty, abnegation, martyrdom, death, are the allurements that act on 
the heart of man. Kindle the inner genial life of him, you have a flame 
that burns up all lower considerations. . . . Not by flattering our 
appetites; no, by awakening the Heroic that slumbers in every heart." — 
—Carlyle. 



Chapter 1. . 
Chapter II. 

fur», iny 

Chapter III. 



Chaiter IV. 



icipline, 

Chapter V. . 



"Oh thai a nan mighl know ihcendofi) 

Chapter VI. 

" I will do it. ■' 

Chapter VII 

"Whalis theic in the worid to dislinguisl 
Labor and the danger, the paio and the diflicul 



CONTENTS. — Concluded. 



PAGE 

Chapter VIII 93 

" I am a man of no strength at all of body, nor yet of 
mind, but would, if I could, though I can but crawl, spend 
my life in the pilgrims' way." 

Chapter IX. 100 

" St. George ! a stirring life they lead. 
That have such neighbors near." 

Chapter X. 106 

** Fills the room up of my absent child, 
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me ; 
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words. 
Remembers me of all his gracious parts. 
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form." 

Chapter XI. 120 

** I have fought a good light. I have finished my couise. 
I have kept the faith. Henceforth — ! " 

Chapter XII 131 

** He that hath found some fledged-bird's nest may know 
At first si^ht, if the bird be flown ; 
But what fair dell or grove he sings in now, 
That is to him unknown." 





^nysTRArioi'^ 



<^^i^^'^ 



/ 




PAGE 

"He was seated among the Cushions of the 

Oriel Window" Frontispiece, 

"And standing Face to Face with the Young 
Cavalier, Leonard sang His Wednesday Text 
ALL through" 20 

"They had been sititng together for Some 

Time" 41 

"And when He had gone back to His Own 

Parade with a Large Piece of Cake" . . 65 

"To This Point Lady Jane's Meditations brought 

Her" 78 

"Sometimes for a Bit I forget about the King" 91 

"A Real, Proper, Blue Dressing-Gown, and a 

Crimson Tie" 108 

"He applied Himself to His Mother's Letter" . 134 

"He lived And died a Soldier's Dog" . . .145 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE 



CHAPTER I. 



" Arma virumque cano." — j^neid, 

" Man — and the horseradish — are most biting when grated." 
— Jean Paul RichUr, 

** Most annoying ! " said the Master of the 
House. His thick eyebrows were puckered 
just then with the vexation of his thoughts; 
but the lines of annoyance on his forehead 
were to some extent fixed lines. They helped 
to make him look older than his age — he was 
not forty — and they gathered into a fierce 
frown as his elbow was softly touched by his 
little son. 

The child was defiantly like his father, even 
to a knitted brow, for his whole face was 
crumpled with the vigor of some resolve which 
he found it hard to keep, and which was sym- 
bolized by his holding the little red tip of his 
tongue betwixt finger and thumb. 

** Put your hands down, Leonard ! Put your 
tongue in, sir ! What are you after? What 



2 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

do you want? What are you doing here? Be 
off to the nursery, and tell Jemima to keep you 
there. Your mother and I are busy." 

Far behind the boy, on the wall, hung the 
portrait of one of his ancestors, — a youth of 
sixteen. The painting was by Vandyck, and 
it was the most valuable of the many valuable 
things that strewed and decorated the room, 
— a very perfect example of the great master's 
work, and uninjured by time. The young 
Cavalier's face was more interesting than hand- 
some, but so eager and refined that, set off as 
it was by pale-hued satin and falling hair, he 
might have been called effeminate, if his brief 
life, which ended on the field of Naseby, had 
not done more than common to prove his man- 
hood. A coat-of-arms, blazoned in the corner 
of the painting, had some appearance of having 
been added later. Below this was rudely in- 
scribed, in yellow paint, the motto w^hich also 
decorated the elaborate stone mantelpiece op- 
posite, — LcBtus sorte mea, 

Leonard was very fond of that picture. It 
was known to his childish affections as '' Uncle 
Rupert." He constantly wished that he could 
get into the frame and play with the dog — the 
dog with the upturned face and melancholy 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 3 

eyes, and odd resemblance to a long-haired 
cavalier — on whose faithful head Uncle Ru- 
pert's slender fingers perpetually reposed. 

Though not able to play with the dog, Leon- 
ard did play with Uncle Rupert — the game of 
trying to get out of the reach of his eyes. 

** I play * Puss-in-the-corner ' with him," the 
child was wont to explain ; ** but whichever 
corner I get into, his eyes come after me. . The 
dog looks at Uncle Rupert always, and Uncle 
Rupert always looks at me." . . . ** To see 
if you are growing up a good boy and a 
gallant young gentleman, such as he was." So 
Leonard's parents and guardians explained the 
matter to him, and he devoutly believed them. 

Many an older and less credulous spectator 
stood in the light of those painted eyes, and 
acknowledged their spell. Very marvellous was 
the cunning which, by dabs and streaks of color, 
had kept the spirit of this long-dead youth to 
gaze at his descendants from a sheet of canvas 
and stir the sympathy of strangers, parted by 
more than two centuries from his sorrows, with 
the mock melancholy of painted tears. For 
whether the painter had just overdone some 
trick of representing their liquidness, or whether 
the boy's eyes had brimmed over as he was 



4 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

standing for his portrait (his father and elder 
brother had died in the civil war before him), 
there remains no tradition to tell. But Vandyck 
never painted a portrait fuller of sad dignity, 
even in those troubled times. 

Happily for his elders, Leonard invented for 
himself a reason for the obvious tears. 

** I believe Uncle Rupert knew that they were 
going to chop the poor king's head off, and 
that's why he looks as if he were going to cry." 

It was partly because the child himself looked 
as if he were going to cry — and that not frac- 
tiously, but despite a struggle with himself — 
that, as he stood before the Master of the 
House, he might have been that other master of 
the same house come to life again at six years 
of age. His long, fair hair, the pliable, nervous 
fingers, which he had put down as he was bid, 
the strenuous tension of his little figure under a 
sense of injustice, and, above all, his beautiful 
eyes, in which the tears now brimmed over the 
eyelashes as the waters of a lake well up through 
the reeds that fringe its banks. He was very, 
very like Uncle Rupert when he turned those 
eyes on his mother in mute reproach. 

Lady Jane came to his defence. 

** I think Leonard meant to be good. I 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 5 

made him promise me to try and cure hiinself 
of the habit of speaking to you when you ar€ 
speaking to some one else. But, dear Leonard " 
(and she took the hand that had touched his 
father's elbow), *'I don't think you were quite 
on honor when you interrupted father with this 
hand, though you were holding your tongue 
with the other. That is what we call keeping 
a promise to the ear and breaking it to the 
sense." 

All the Cavalier dignity came unstarched in 
Leonard's figure. With a red face, he answered 
bluntly, ** I'm very sorry. I meant to keep my 
promise." 

** Next time keep it welly as a gentleman 
should. Now, what do you want? " 

'* Pencil and paper, please." 

"There they are. Take themi to the nursery, 
as father told you." 

Leonard looked at his father. He had not 
been spoilt for six years by an irritable and in- 
dulgent parent without learning those arts of 
diplomacy in which children quickly become 
experts. 

" Oh, he can stay/' said the Master of the 
House, " and he may say a word now and then, 
if he doesn't talk too much. Boys can't ait 



6 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

mumchance always — can they, Len? There, 
kiss your poor old father, and get away, and 
keep quiet." 

Lady Jane made one of many fruitless ef- 
forts on behalf of discipline. 

** I think, dear, as you told him to go, he had 
better go now." 

" He will go, pretty sharp, if he isn't good. 
Now, for pity's sake, let's talk out this affair, 
and let me get back to my work." 

*• Have you been writing poetry this morn- 
ing, father dear?" Leonard inquired, urbanely. 

He was now lolling against a writing-table of 
the first empire, where sheets of paper lay like 
fallen leaves among Japanese bronzes, old and 
elaborate candlesticks, grotesque letter-clips 
and paper-weights, quaint pottery, big seals, 
and spring flowers in slender Venetian glasses 
of many colors. 

" I wrote three lines, and was interrupted four 
times," replied his sire, with bitter brevity. 

*' I think /'// write some poetry. I don't 
mind being interrupted. May I have your ink? " 

** No, you may not/" roared the Master of 
the House and of the inkpot of priceless china 
which Leonard had seized. "Now, be off to 
the nursery ! " 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. / 

" I won't touch anything. I am going to 
draw out of the window," said Leonard, calmly. 

He had practised the art of being trouble- 
some to the verge of expulsion ever since he 
had had a whim of his own, and as skilfully as 
he played other games. He was seated among 
the cushions of the oriel window-seat (colored 
rays from coats-of-arms in the upper panes fall- 
ing on his fair hair with a fanciful effect of can- 
onizing him for his sudden goodness) almost 
before his father could reply. 

" I advise you to stay there, and to keep 
quiet." Lady Jane took up the broken thread 
of conversation in despair. 

*' Have you ever seen him? " 

" Yes ; years ago." 

** You know I never saw either. Your sister 
was much older than you ; wasn't she? " 

** The shadows move so on the grass y and the 
elms have so many branches y I think I shall turn 
round and draw the fireplace y' murmured Leon- . 
ard, 

**Ten years. You may be sure, if I had 
been grown up I should never have allowed the 
marriage. I cannot think what possessed my 
father " 

** / am doing the inscription I I can print 



8 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

Old English, What does L. diphthong jE. T. 
U. S. mean f " said Leonard, 

^^ It means joyful, contented ^ happy. — I was 
at Eton at the. time. Disastrous ill-luck ! " 

" Are there any children? " 

** One son. And to crown all, his regiment 
is at Asholt. Nice family party ! " 

" A young man ! Has he been well brought 
up?" 

** What does — " 

" Will yon hold your tongue, Leonard ? — Is 
he likely to have been well brought up ? How- 
ever, he's *in the Service,' as they say. I wish 
it didn't make one think of flunkeys, what with 
the word service, and the liveries (I mean uni- 
forms), and the legs, and shoulders, and swag- 
ger, and tag-rags, and epaulettes, and the 
fatiguing alertness and attentiveness of • men in 
the Service.' " 

The Master of the House spoke with the 
pettish accent of one who says what he does 
not mean, partly for lack of something better to 
do, and partly to avenge some inward vexation 
upon his hearers. He lounged languidly on a 
couch, but Lady Jane sat upright, and her eyes 
gave an unwonted flash. She came of an an- 
cient Scottish race, that had shed its blood like 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 9 

water on many a battle-field, generations before 
the family of her English husband had become 
favorites at the Court of the Tudors. 

" I have so many military belongings, both 
in the past and the present, that I have a re- 
spect for the Service — " 

He got up and patted her head, and smiled. 

" I beg your pardon, my child. Et ego''' — 
and he looked at Uncle Rupert, who looked 
sadly back again : *'but you must make allow- 
ances for me. Asholt Camp has been a thorn 
in my side from the first. And now to have 
the barrack master, and the youngest subaltern 
of a marching regiment—" 

** He's our nephew, Rupert ! " 

**Mine — not yours. YouVe nothing to do 
with him, thank goodness." 

"Your people are my people. Now do not 
worry yourself. Of course I shall call on your 
sister at once. Will they be here for some 
time?" 

**Five years, you may depend. He's just 
the sort of man to wedge himself into a snug 
berth at Asholt. You're an angel, Jane ; you 
always are. But fighting ancestors are one 
thing ; a barrack-master brother-in-law is an- 
other." 



lO THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

"Has he done any fighting?" 

•'* Oh dear, yes ! Bemedalled like that Guy 
Fawkes general in the pawnbroker's window, 
that Len was so charmed by. But, my dear, I 
assure you — '* 

'' I only just want to know what S. 0. R. T, 
E. M. E, A. means" Leonard hastily broke in. 
** I've done it all nowy and sha'n't want to know 
anything more!' 

** Sorte me a is Latin for ^ my fate! or * my lot 
in life! Lcetus sorte mea means * happy in my 
lot! It is our family motto. Now, if you ask 
another question, off you go ! — After all, Jane, 
you must allow it's about as hard lines as could 
be, to have a few ancestral acres and a nice old 
place in one of the quietest, quaintest corners 
of old England ; and for Government to come 
and plant a Camp of Instruction, as they call 
it, and pour in tribes of savages in war-paint to 
build wigwams within a couple of miles of your 
lodge-gates ! " 

She laughed heartily. 

'' Dear Rupert ! You are a born poet ! You 
do magnify your woes so grandly. What was 
the brother-in-law like when you saw him?" 

*' Oh, the regular type. Hair cut like a pau- 
per, or a convict" (the Master of the House 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. II 

tossed his own locks as he spoke), *'big, swag- 
gering sort of fellow, swallowed the poker and 
not digested it, rather good features, acclima- 
tized complexion, tight fit of hot-red cloth, and 
general pipeclay." 

'* Then he must be the sapper ! " Leonard an- 
nounced, as he advanced with a firm step and 
kindling eyes from the window. ** Jemima's 
other brother is a gunner. He dresses in blue. 
But they both pipeclay their gloves, and I pipe- 
clayed mine this morning, when she did the 
hearth. YouVe no idea how nasty they look 
while it's wet, but they dry as white as snow, 
only mine fell among the cinders. The sapper 
is very kind, both to her and to me. He gave 
her a brooch, and he is making me a wooden 
fort to put my cannon in. But the gunner is 
such a funny man ! I said to him, * Gunner ! 
why do you wear white gloves ? ' and he said, 
* Young gentleman, why does a miller wear a 
white hat?' He's very funny. But I think I 
like the tidy one best of all. He is so very 
beautiful, and I should think he must be very 
brave." 

That Leonard was permitted to deliver him- 
self of this speech without a check can only 
have been due to the paralyzing nature of the 



\2 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

shock which it inflicted on his parents, and of 
'which he himself was pleasantly unconscious. 
His whole soul was iti the subject, and he spoke 
With a certain grace and directness of address, 
and with a clear and facile enunciation, which 
were artiortg the child^s most conspicuous marks 
t)f good breeding. 

'** This is nice ! " said the Master of the House 
between his teeth With a deepened scowl. 

The air felt stormy, and Leonard began to 
coax. H^ laid his ctirls against his father's 
arm, and asked, '' Did you ever see a tidy one, 
father dear? He is a very splendid sort of 
man." 

'* What nonsense are you talking? What do 
you mean by a tidy one ? " 

There was no mistake about the storm now ; 
and L^onavd began to feel helpless, and, as 
•dstial in such circumstatices, turned to Lady 
Jafie. 

** Mother told lYie ! " he gasped. 

The Master of the House also turned to Lady 
Jane. 

"• Do you mean you have heard of this be- 
fote ? '' 

She shook her head, and he seized his son 
by the shoulder. 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. I3 

" If that woman has taught you to tell un- 
truths — " 

Lady Jane firmly interposed. 

** Leonard never tells untruths, Rupert. 
Please don't frighten him into doing so. Now, 
Leonard, don't be foolish and cowardly. Tell 
ftiother quite bravely all about it. Perhaps she 
has forgotten." 

The child was naturally brave ; but the ele- 
ments of excitement and uncertainty in his up- 
bringing were producing their natural results 
in a nervous and unequable temperament. It 
is not the least serious of the evils of being 
** spoilt," though, perhaps, the most seldom 
recognized. Many a fond parent justly fears 
to overdo ** lessons," who is surprisingly blind 
to the brain-fag that comes from the strain 
to live at grown-up people's level ; and to 
the nervous exhaustion produced in children, 
tio less than in their elders, by indulged rest- 
lessness, discontent, and craving for fresh ex- 
citement, and for want of that sense of power 
and repose which comes with habitual obedience 
to righteous rules and regulations. Laws that 
can be set at naught are among the most 
demoralizing of influences which can curse 
a nation; and their effects are hardly less 



14 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

disastrous in the nursery. Moreover, an un- 
certain discipline is apt to take even the spoilt 
by surprise; and, as Leonard seldom fully 
understood the checks he did receive, they un- 
nerved him. He was unnerved now ; and, even 
with his hand in that of his mother, he stam- 
mered over his story with ill-repressed sobs 
and much mental confusion. 

" W — we met him out walking. I m — mean 
we were out walking. He was out riding. He 
looked like a picture in my t — t — tales from 
Froissart. He had a very curious kind of a 
helmet — n — not quite a helmet, and a beauti- 
ful green feather — at least, n — not exactly a 
feather, and a beautiful red waistcoat, only n — 
not a real waistcoat, b — but — " 

** Send him to bed ! " roared the Master of 
the House. ** Don't let him prevaricate any 
more ! " 

** No, Rupert, please ! I wish him to try 
and give a straight account. Now, Leonard, 
don't be a baby ; but go on and tell the truth, 
like a brave boy." 

Leonard desperately proceeded, sniffing as 
he did so. 

" He c — carried a spear, like an old warrior. 
He truthfully did. On my honor! One end 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 1$ 

was on the tip of his foot, and there was a flag 
at the other end — a real fluttering pennon — 
there truthfully was ! He does poke with his 
spear in battle, I do believe ; but he didn't poke 
us. He was b — b — beautiful to b — b — be 
— hold ! I asked Jemima, * Is he another 
brother, for you do have such very nice 
brothers? ' and she said, * No, he's — ' " 

** Hang Jemima ! " said the Master of the 
House. ** Now listen to me. You said your 
mother told you. What did she tell you? " 

" Je — Je — Jemima said, * No, he's a' or- 
derly ' ; and asked the way — I qu — quite for- 
get where to — I truthfully do. And next 
morning I asked mother what does orderly 
mean ? And she said tidy. So I call him the 
tidy one. Dear mother, you truthfully did — 
at least," added Leonard chivalrously, as Lady 
Jane's face gave no response, ** at least, if you've 
forgotten, never mind : it's my fault." 

But Lady Jane's face was blank because she 
was trying not to laugh. The Master of the 
House did not try long. He bit his lip, and 
then burst into a peal. 

" Better say no more to him," murmured 
Lady Jane. ** I'll see Jemima now, if he may 
stay with you." 



16 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

He nodded, and throwing himself back on 
the couch, held out his arms to the child. 

*' Well, that'll do. Put these men out of your 
head, and let me see your drawing." 

Leonard stretched his faculties, and perceived 
that the storm was overpast. He clambered on 
to his father's knee, and their heads were soon 
bent lovingly together over the much-smudged 
sheet of paper, on which the motto from the 
chimney-piece was irregularly traced. 

"You should have copied it from Uncle 
Rupert's picture. It is in plain letters there." 

Leonard made no reply. His head now lay 
back on his father's shoulder, and his eyes were 
fixed on the ceiling, which was of Elizabethan 
date, with fantastic flowers in raised plaster- 
work. But Leonard did not see them at that 
moment. His vision was really turned inwards. 
Presently he said, ** I am trying to think. Don't 
interrupt me, father, if you please." 

The Master of the House smiled, and gazed 
complacently at the face beside him. No 
painting, no china in his possession, was more 
beautiful. Suddenly the boy jumped down 
and stood alone, with his hands behind his 
back, and his eyes tightly shut. 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 1 7 

"I am thinking very hard, father. Please 
tell me again what our motto means." 

*' ' Lcetus sorte mea, — Happy . in n^y lot' 
What ar^you puzzling your little brains about? " 

** Because I know I know something so like 
it, and I can't think what! Yes — no! Wait 
a minute ! I've just got it ! Yes, I remember 
now : it was my Wednesday text ! " 

He opened wide shining eyes, and clapped 
his hands, and his clear voice rang with the 
added note of triumph, as he cried, ** ' The lot 
is fallen unto me in a fair ground. Yea, I have 
a goodly heritage.' " 

The Master of the House held out his arms 
without speaking ; - but when Leonard had 
climbed back into them, he stroked the child's 
hair slowly, and said, '* Is that your Wednesday 
text?" 

**Last Wednesday's. I learn a text every 
day. Jemima sets them. She says her grand- 
mother made her learn texts when she was a 
little girl. Now, father dear, I'll tell you what 
I wish you would do : and I want you to do it 
at once — this very minute." 

"That is generally the date of your desires. 
What is it? " 

"I don't know what you are talking about, 



1 8 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

but I know what I want. Now you and I are 
all alone to our very selves, I want you to come 
to the organ, and put that text to music like 
the anthem you made out of those texts mother 
chose for you, for the harvest festival. I'll tell 
you the words, for fear you don't quite remem- 
ber them, and I'll blow the bellows. You may 
play on all-fours with both your feet and hands ; 
you may pull out trumpet handle; you may 
make as much noise as ever you Hke — you'll 
see how I'll blow ! " 

Satisfied by the sounds of music that the two 
were happy, Lady Jane was in no haste to go 
back to the library ; but, when she did return, 
Leonard greeted her warmly. 

He was pumping at the bellows handle of the 
chamber organ, before which sat the Master of 
the House, not a ruffle on his brow, playing 
with "all-fours," and singing as he played. 

Leonard's cheeks were flushed, and he cried 
impatiently, — 

*' Mother ! Mother dear ! I've been want- 
ing you ever so long ! Father has set my text 
to music, and I want you to hear it ; but I want 
to sit by him and sing too. So you must come 
and blow." 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 1 9 

** Nonsense, Leonard ! Your mother must do 
nothing of the sort. Jane ! Listen to this ! — 
In a fa — air grou — nd. Bit of pure melody, 
that, eh? The land flowing with milk and 
honey seems to stretch before one's eyes." 

" No ! father, that is unfair. You are not to 
tell her bits in the middle. Begin at the begin- 
ning, and — mother dear, will you blow, and 
let me sing? " 

"Certainly. Yes, Rupert, please. I've done 
it before ; and my back isn't aching to-day. 
Do let me ! " 

"Yes, do let her," said Leonard, conclusively ; 
and he swung himself up into the seat beside 
his father without more ado. 

" Now, father, begin ! Mother, listen ! And 
when it comes to ' Yea' and I pull trumpet 
handle out, blow as hard as ever you can. 
This first bit — when he only plays — is very 
gentle, and quite easy to blow." 

Deep breathing of the organ filled a brief 
silence, then a prelude stole about the room. 
Leonard's eyes devoured his father's face, and 
the Master of the House, looking down on him 
with the double complacency of father and 
composer, began to sing: — 

"*The lot — the lot is fallen un-to me'"; 



20 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

and, his mouth wide-parted with smiles, Leon- 
ard sang also: " 'The lot — the lot is fallen — 
fallen un-to me.'" 



" ' In a fa — air grou — nd.' " 
" 'Yea ! ' (Now, mother dear, blow ! and 
fancy you hear trumpets! ") 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 21 

*' * Vea ! YEA ! I have a good-ly her — i — 
tage ! ' " 

And after Lady Jane had ceased to blow, 
and the musician to make music, Leonard still 
danced and sang wildly about the room. 

'* Isn't it splendid, mother? Father and I 
made it together out of my Wednesday text. 
Uncle Rupert, can j/oti hear it? I don't think 
you can. I believe you are dead and deaf, 
though you seem to see." 

And standing face to face with the young 
Cavalier, Leonard sang his Wednesday text all 
through : — 

" *The lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground ; 
yea, I have a goodly heritage.' " 

But Uncle Rupert spoke no word to his 
young kinsman, though he still "seemed to 
see" through eyes drowned in tears. 



22 THE STURV OF A SHORT LIFE. 



CHAPTER II. 

— "an acre of barren ground; ling, heath, broom, furze, any- 
thing." — Tempesty Act I. Scene I. 

" Sound, sound the clarion, till the hfe ! 
To all the sensual world proclaim, 
One crowded hour of glorious life 
Is worth an age without a name." 

— Scott, 

Take a Highwayman's Heath. 

Destroy every vestige of Hfe with fire and 
axe, from the pine that has longest been a land- 
mark, to the smallest beetle smothered in smok- 
ing moss. 

Burn acres of purple and pink heather, and 
pare away the young bracken that springs ver- 
dant from its ashes. 

Let flame consume the perfumed gorse in all 
its glory, and not spare the broom, whose more 
exquisite yellow atones for its lack of fra- 
grance. 

In this common ruin be every lesser flow-er 
involved : blue beds of speedwell by the way- 
farer's path — the daintier milkwort, and rougher 
red rattle — down to the very dodder that clasps 
the heather, let them perish, and the face of 
Dame Nature be utterly blackened ! Then : — 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 23 

Shave the heath as bare as the back of your 
hand, and if you have felled every tree, and 
left not so much as a tussock of grass or a scar- 
let toadstool to break the force of the winds ; 
then shall the winds come, from the east and 
from the west, from the north and from the 
south, and shall raise on your shaven heath 
clouds of sand that would not discredit a desert 
in the heart of Africa. 

By some such recipe the ground was pre- 
pared for that Camp of Instruction at Asholt 
which was, as we have seen, a thorn in the side 
of at least one of its neighbors. Then a due 
portion of this sandy oasis in a wilderness of 
beauty was mapped out into lines, with military 
precision, and on these were built rows of little 
wooden huts, which were painted a neat and 
useful black. 

The huts for married men and officers were 
of varying degrees of comfort and homeliness, 
but those for single men were like toy-boxes of 
wooden soldiers ; it was only by doing it very 
tidily that you could (so to speak) put your 
pretty soldiers away at night when you had 
done playing with them, and get the lid to shut 
down. 

But then tidiness is a virtue which — like 



24 THE STORV OF A SHORT LIFE. 

patience — is its own reward. And nineteen 
men who keep themselves clean and their be- 
longings cleaner; who have made their nine- 
teen beds into easy-chairs before most people 
have got out of bed at all ; whose tin pails arc 
kept as bright as average teaspoons; (to the 
envy of housewives and the shame of house- 
maids!) who establish a common and a holi- 
day side to the reversible top of their one long 
table, and scrupulously scrub both ; who have 
a place for everything, and a discipline which 
obliges everybody to put everything in its place ; 
— nineteen men, I say, with such habits, find 
more comfort and elbow-room in a hut than an 
outsider might believe possible, and hang up a 
photograph or two into the bargain. 

But it may be at once conceded to the credit 
of the camp, that those who lived there thought 
better of it than those who did not, and that 
those who lived there longest were apt to like 
it best of all. 

It was, however, regarded by different people 
from very opposite points of view, in each of 
which was some truth. 

There were those to whom the place and the 
life were alike hateful. 

They said that, from a soldier's standpoint, 



-. ii- ■»■ ■- ^itii " 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 25 

the life was one of exceptionally hard work, 
and uncertain stay, with no small proportion of 
the hardships and even risks of active service, 
and none of the more glorious chances of war. 

That you might die of sunstroke on the 
march, or contract rheumatism, fever, or dysen- 
tery, under canvas, without drawing Indian pay 
and allowances ; and that you might ruin your 
uniform as rapidly as in a campaign, and never 
hope to pin a ribbon over its inglorious stains. 

That the military society was too large to 
find friends quickly in the neighborhood, and 
that as to your neighbors in camp, they were 
sure to get marching orders just when you had 
learnt to like them. And if you did not like 
them — ! (But for that matter, quarrelsome 
neighbors are much the same everywhere. 
And a boundary road between two estates 
will furnish as pretty a feud as the pump of a 
common back yard.) 

The haters of the camp said that it had 
every characteristic to disqualify it for a home ; 
that it was ugly and crowded without the ap- 
pliances of civilization ; that it was neither town 
nor country, and had the disadvantages of each 
without the merits of either. 

That it was unshaded and unsheltered, that 



26 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

the lines were monotonous and yet confusing, 
and every road and parade ground more dusty 
than another. 

That the huts let in the frost in winter and 
the heat in summer, and were at once stuffy and 
draughty. 

That the low roofs were like a weight upon 
your head, and that the torture was invariably 
brought to a climax on the hottest of the dog- 
days, when they were tarred and sanded in spite 
of your teeth; a process which did not insure 
their being water-tight or snow-proof when the 
weather changed. 

That the rooms had no cupboards, but an 
unusual number of doors, through which no 
tall man could pass without stooping. 

That only the publicity and squalor of the 
back-premises of the ** pines " — their drying 
clothes, and crumbling mud walls, their coal- 
boxes and slop-pails — could exceed the de- 
pressing effects of the gardens in front, where 
such plants as were not uprooted by the winds 
perished of frost or drought, and where, if some 
gallant creeper had stood fast and covered the 
nakedness of your wooden hovel, the Royal 
Engineers would arrive one morning, with as 
little announcement as the tar and sand men, 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 2/ 

and tear down the growth of years before you 
had finished shaving, for the purpose of re- 
painting your outer walls. 

On the other hand, there were those who 
had a great affection for Asholt, and affection 
never lacks arguments. 

Admitting some hardships and blunders, the 
defenders of the camp fell back successfully 
upon statistics for a witness to the general 
good health. 

They said that if the camp was windy the 
breezes were exquisitely bracing, and the cli- 
mate of that particular part of England such as 
would qualify it for a health-resort for invalids, 
were it only situated in a comparatively inac- 
cessible part of the Pyrenees, instead of being 
within an hour or two of London. 

That this fact of being within easy reach of 
town made the camp practically at the head- 
quarters of civilization and refinement, whilst 
the simple and sociable ways of living, neces- 
sitated by hut-life in common, emancipated its 
select society from rival extravagance and cum- 
bersome formalities. 

That the camp stood on the borders of the 
two counties of England which rank highest on 
the books of estate and house agents, and that 



28 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

if you did not think the country lovely and the 
neighborhood agreeable you must be hard to 
please. 

That, as regards the Royal Engineers, it was 
one of your privileges to be hard to please, 
since you were entitled to their good offices ; 
and if, after all, they sometimes failed to cure 
your disordered drains and smoky chimneys, 
you, at any rate, did not pay as well as suffer, 
which is the case in civil life. 

That low doors to military quarters might be 
regarded as a practical joke on the part of 
authorities, who demand that soldiers shall be 
both tall and upright, but that man, whether 
military or not, is an adaptable animal and can 
get used to anything ; and indeed it was only 
those officers whose thoughts were more active 
than their instincts who invariably crushed their 
best hats before starting for town. 

That huts (if only they were a little higher !) 
had a great many advantages over small houses, 
which were best appreciated by those who had 
tried drawing lodging allowance and living in 
villas, and which would be fully known if ever 
the lines were rebuilt in brick. 

That on moonlit nights the airs that fanned 
the silent camp were as dry and wholesome as 



=d 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 29 

by day ; that the song of the distant nightin- 
gale could be heard there; and finally, that 
from end to end of this dwelling-place of ten 
thousand to (on occasion) twenty thousand 
men, a woman might pass at midnight with 
greater safety than in the country lanes of a 
rural village or a police-protected thoroughfare 
of the metropolis. 

But, in truth, the camp's best defence in the 
hearts of its defenders was that it was a camp, 
— military life in epitome, with all its defects 
and all its charm ; not the least of which, to 
some whimsical minds, is, that it represents, as 
no other phase of society represents, the human 
pilgrimage in brief 

Here be sudden partings, but frequent re- 
unions; the charities and courtesies of an un- 
certain life lived largely in common ; the hos- 
pitality of passing hosts to guests who tarry 
but a day. 

Here, surely, should be the home of the sage 
as well as the soldier, where every hut might 
fitly carry the ancient motto, ** Dwell as if about 
to depart," where work bears the nobler name 
of duty, and where the living, hastening on his 
business amid **the hurryings of this life,"* 

♦ Bunyan*s Pilgrims Progress. 



30 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

must pause and stand to salute the dead as he 
is carried by. 

Bare and dusty are the parade grounds, but 
they are thick with memories. Here were 
blessed the colors that became a young man's 
shroud that they might not be a nation's shame. 
Here march and music welcome the coming 
and speed the parting regiments. On this pa- 
rade the rising sun is greeted with gun-fire and 
trumpet clarions shriller than the cock, and 
there he sets to a like salute with tuck of drum. 
Here the young recruit drills, the warrior puts 
on his medal, the old pensioner steals back to 
watch them, and the soldiers' children play — 
sometimes at fighting or flag-wagging,* but 
oftener at funerals ! 

* " Rag-wagging," a name among soldiers' children for 
"signalling." 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 3 1 



CHAPTER III. 

" Ut migraturus habita^^ ("Dwell as if about to depart"). 
— Old House Motto. 

The barrack master's wife was standing in 
the porch of her hut, the sides of which were 
of the simplest trellis-work of crossed fir-poles, 
through which she could watch the proceedings 
of the gardener without baking herself in the 
sun. Suddenly she snatched up a green-lined 
white umbrella, that had seen service in India, 
and ran out. 

** O'Reilly ! what is that baby doing? There ! 
that white-headed child crossing the parade 
with a basket in its little arms ! It's got noth- 
ing on its head. Please go and take it to its 
mother before it gets sunstroke." 

The gardener was an Irish soldier - — an old 
soldier, as the handkerchief depending from his 
cap, to protect the nape of his neck from the 
sun, bore witness. He was a tall man, and 
stepped without ceremony over the garden pal- 
ing to get a nearer view of the parade. But he 
stepped back again at once, and resumed his 
place in the garden. 



32 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

"He's Corporal Macdonald's child, madam. 
The Blind Baby, they call him. Not a bit of 
harm will he get. They're as hard as nails, the 
whole lot of them. If I was to take him in 
now, he'd be out before my back was turned. 
His brothers and sisters are at the school, and 
Blind Baby's just as happy as the day is long, 
playing at funerals all the time." 

*' Blind ! Is he blind ? Poor little soul ! But 
he's got a great round potato-basket in his arms. 
Surely they don't make that afflicted infant 
fetch and carry ? " 

O'Reilly laughed so heartily that he scandal- 
ized his own sense of propriety. 

** I ask your pardon, madam. But there's no 
fear that Blind Baby'll fetch and carry. Every 
man in the lines is his nurse." 

" But what's he doing with that round hamper 
as big as himself ? " 

** It's just a make-believe for the big drum, 
madam. The 'Dead March' is his whole de- 
light. 'Twas only yesterday I said to his father, 
* Corporal,' I says, * we'll live to see Blind Baby 
a band-master yet,' I says ; * it's a pure pleasure 
to see him beat out a tune with his closed fist.' " 

"Will I go and borrow a barrow now, mad- 
am?" added O'Reilly, returning to his duties. 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 33 

He was always willing and never idle, but he 
liked change of occupation. 

" No, no. Don't go away. We sha'n't want 
a wheelbarrow till we've finished trenching this 
border, and picking out the stones. Then you 
can take them away and fetch the new soil." 

** You're at a deal of pains, madam, and it's 
a poor patch when all's done to it." 

" I can't live without flowers, O'Reilly, and 
the Colonel says I may do what I like with this 
bare strip." 

''Ah! Don't touch the dirty stones with 
your fingers, ma'am. I'll have the lot picked 
in no time at all." 

''You see, O'Reilly, you can't grow flowers 
in sand unless you can command water, and the 
Colonel tells me that when it's hot here the water 
supply runs short, and we mayn't water the 
garden from the pumps." 

O'Reilly smiled superior. 

"The Colonel will get what water he wants, 
ma'am. Never fear him ! There's ways and 
means. Look at the gardens of the Royal 
Engineers* lines. In the hottest of summer 
weather they're as green as old Ireland ; and it's 
not to be supposed that the Royal Engineers 
can requisition showers from the skies when 



34 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

they need them, more than the rest of her Maj- 
esty's forces." 

** Perhaps the Royal Engineers do what I mean 
to do, — take more pains than usual, and put 
in soil that will retain some moisture. One 
can't make poor land yield anything without 
pains, O'Reilly, and this is like the dry bed of 
a stream — all sand and pebbles." 

*' That's as true a word as ever ye spoke, 
madam, and if it were not that 'twould be tak- 
ing a liberty, I'd give ye some advice about 
gardening in camp. It's not the first time I'm 
quartered in Asholt, and I know the ways 
of it." 

** I shall be very glad of advice. You know 
I have never been stationed here before." 

" 'Tis an old soldier's advice, madam." 

** So much the better," said the lady, warmly. 

O'Reilly was kneeling to his work. He now 
sat back on his heels, and not without a certain 
dignity that bade defiance to his surroundings 
he commenced his oration. 

*' Please God to spare you and the Colonel, 
madam, to put in his time as Barrack Master 
at this station, ye'll see many a regiment come 
and go, and be making themselves at home all 
along. And anny one that knows this place, 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 35 

and the nature of the soil, tear-rs would over- 
flow his eyes to see the regiments come for 
drill, and betake themselves to gardening. 
Maybe the boys have marched in footsore and 
fasting, in the hottest of weather, to cold com- 
fort in empty quarters, and they'll not let many 
hours flit over their heads before some of 'em 
*11 get possession of a load of green turf, and be 
laying it down for borders around their huts. 
It's the young ones I'm speaking of; and there 
ye'll see them, in the blazing sun, with their 
shirts open, and not a thing on their heads, 
squaring and fitting the turfs for bare life, 
watering them out of old pie-dishes and. stable- 
buckets and whatnot, singing and whistling, 
and fetching and carrying between the pump 
and their quarters, just as cheerful as so many 
birds building their nests in the spring." 

•' A very pretty picture, O'Reilly. Why should 
it bring tears to your eyes? An old soldier like 
you must know that one would never have a 
home in quarters at all if one did not begin to 
make it at once." 

" True for you, madam. Not a doubt of it. 
But it goes to your heart to see labor thrown 
away ; and it's not once in a hundred times that 
grass planted Hke that will get hold of a soil like 



36 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

this, and the boys themselves at drill all along, 
or gone out under canvas in Bottomless Bog 
before the week's over, as likely as not." 

'• That would be unlucky. But one must 
take one's luck as it comes. And you've not 
told me, now, what you do advise for camp 
gardens." 

** That's just what I'm coming to, ma'am. 
See the old soldier ! What does he do ? Turns 
the bucket upside down outside his hut, and 
sits on it, with a cap on his head, and a hand- 
kerchief down his back, and some tin tacks, and 
a ball of string — trust a soldier's eye to get the 
lines straight — every one of them beginning 
on the ground and going nearly up to the roof." 

'* For creepers, I suppose? What does the 
old soldier plant? " 

" Beans, madam — scarlet runners. These 
are the things for Asholt. A few beans are 
nothing in your baggage. They like a warm 
place, and when they're on the sunny side of 
a hut they've got it, and no mistake. They're 
growing while you're on duty. The flowers 
are the right soldier's color ; and when it 
comes to the beans, ye may put your hand 
out of the window and gather them, and no 
trouble at all." 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 3/ 

'* The old soldier is very wise ; but I think I 
must have more flowers than that. So I plant, 
and if they die I am very sorry ; and if they 
live, and other people have them, I try to be 
glad. One ought to learn to be unselfish, 
O'Reilly, and think of one's successors." 

'' And that's true, madam ; barring that I 
never knew any one's successor to have the 
same fancies as himself: one plants trees to 
give shelter, and the next cuts them down to 
let in the air." 

" Well, I suppose the only way is to be pre- 
pared for the worst. The rose we planted 
yesterday by the porch is a great favorite of 
mine ; but the Colonel calls it * Marching 
Orders.' It used to grow over my window in 
my old home, and I have planted it by every 
home I have had since ; but the Colonel says 
whenever it settled and began to flower the 
regiment got the route." 

**The Colonel must name it again, madam," 
said O'Reilly, gallantly, as he hitched up the 
knees of his trousers, and returned to the 
border. " It shall be ' Standing Orders ' now, 
if soap and water can make it blossom, and I'm 
spared to attend to it all the time. Many a 



38 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

hundred roses may you and the Colonel pluck 
from it, and never one with a thorn ! " 

"Thank you, O'Reilly; thank you very 
much. Soapy water is very good for roses, I 
believe? " 

** It is so, madam. I put in a good deal of 
my time as officer's servant after I was in the 
Connaught Rangers, and the captain I was with 
one time was as fond of flowers as yourself 
There was a mighty fine rose-bush by his quar- 
ters, and every morning I had to carry out his 
bath to it. He used more soap than most gen- 
tlemen, and when he sent me to the town for 
it — * It's not for myself, O'Reilly,' he'd say, 

* so much as for the rose. Bring large tablets,' 
he'd say, * and the best scented ye can get. 
The roses'll be the sweeter for it.' That was 
his way of joking, and never a smile on his 
face. He was odd in many of his ways, was 
the captain, but he was a grand soldier entirely ; 
a good officer, and a good friend to his men, 
and to the wives and children no less. The 
regiment was in India when he died of cholera, 
in twenty-four hours, do what I would. ' Oh, 
the cramp in my legs, O'Reilly ! ' he says. 

* God bless ye, captain,' says I, * never mind 
your legs ; I'd manage the cramp, sir,' I says, 



J 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 39 

*if I could but keep up your heart.' — * Ye'll not 
do that, O'Reilly/ he says, * for all your good- 
ness ; I lost it too long ago.' That was his 
way of joking, and never a smile on his face. 
'Twas a pestilential hole we were in, and that's 
the truth; and cost her Majesty more in lives 
than would have built healthy quarters, and 
given us every comfort ; but the flowers throve 
there if we didn't, and the captain's grave was 
filled till ye couldn't get the sight of him for 
roses. He was a good officer, and beloved of 
his men ; and better master never a man had ! " 

As he ceased speaking, O'Reilly drew his 
sleeve sharply across his eyes, and then bent 
again to his work, which was why he failed to 
see what the barrack master's wife saw, and did 
not for some moments discover that she was no 
longer in the garden. The matter was this : — 

The barrack master's quarters were close to 
the Iron Church, and the straight road that ran 
past both was crossed, just beyond the church, 
by another straight road, which finally led out 
to and joined a country highway. From this 
highway an open carriage and pair were being 
driven into the camp as a soldier's funeral was 
marching to church. The band frightened the 
horses, who were got past with some difficulty, 



40 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

and having turned the sharp corner, were com- 
ing rapidly towards the barrack master's hut, 
when Blind Baby, excited by the band, strayed 
from his parade ground, tumbled, basket and 
all, into the ditch that divided it from the road, 
picked up himself and his basket, and was 
sturdily setting forth across the road just as the 
frightened horses came plunging to the spot. 

The barrack master's wife was not very 
young, and not very slender. Rapid move- 
ments were not easy to her. She was nervous 
also, and could never afterwards remember what 
she did with herself in those brief moments be- 
fore she became conscious that the footman 
had got to the horses' heads, and that she her- 
self was almost under their feet, with Blind 
Baby in her arms. Blind Baby himself recalled 
►her to consciousness by the ungrateful fashion 
in which he pummelled his deliverer with his 
fists and howled for his basket, which had 
rolled under the carriage to add to the confu- 
sion. Nor was he to be pacified till O'Reilly 
took him from her arms. 

By this time men had rushed from every hut 
and kitchen, wash-place and shop, and were 
swarming to the rescue ; and through the whole 
disturbance, like minute-guns, came the short 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 41 

barks of a black puppy, which Leonard had 
insisted upon taking with him to show to his 
aunt despite the protestations of his mother: 
for it was Lady Jane's carriage, and this was 
how the sisters met. 

They had been sitting together for some 
time, so absorbed by the strangeness and the 



pleasure of their new relations, that Leonard 
and his puppy had slipped away unobserved, 
when Lady Jane, who was near the window, 
called to her sister-in-law : " Adelaide, tell 



42 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

me, my dear, is this Colonel Jones?" She 
spoke with some trepidation. It is so easy for 
those unacquainted with uniforms to make 
strange blunders. Moreover, the barrack mas- 
ter, though soldierly looking, was so, despite a 
very unsoldierly defect. He was exceedingly 
stout, and as he approached the miniature gar- 
den gate. Lady Jane found herself gazing with 
some anxiety to see if he could possibly get 
through. 

But O'Reilly did not make an empty boast 
when he said that a soldier's eye was true. 
The Colonel came quite neatly through the toy 
entrance, knocked nothing down in the porch, 
bent and bared his head with one gesture as he 
passed under the drawing-room doorway, and 
bowing again to Lady Jane, moved straight to 
the side of his wife. 

Something in the action — a mixture of dig- 
nity and devotion, with just a touch of defiance 
— went to Lady Jane's heart. She went up 
to him and held out both her hands : " Please 
shake hands with me, Colonel Jones. I am so 
very happy to have found a sister ! " In a 
moment more she turned round, saying: "I 
must show you your nephew. Leonard ! " But 
Leonard was not there* 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 43 

** I fancy I have seen him already," said the 
Colonel. ** If he is a very beautiful boy, very 
beautifully dressed in velvet, he's with O'Reilly, 
watching the funeral." 

Lady Jane looked horrified, and Mrs. Jones 
looked much relieved. 

'' He's quite safe if he's with O'Reilly. But 
give me my sunshade, Henry, please ; I dare 
say Lady Jane would like to see the funeral 
too." 

It is an Asholt amenity to take care that you 
miss no opportunity of seeing a funeral. It 
would not have occurred to Lady Jane to wish 
to go, but as her only child had gone she went 
willingly to look for him. As they turned the 
corner of the hut they came straight upon it, 
and at that moment the ** Dead March " broke 
forth afresh. 

The drum beat out those familiar notes 
which strike upon the heart rather than the ear, 
the brass screamed, the ground trembled to the 
tramp of feet and the lumbering of the gun 
carriage, and Lady Jane's eyes filled suddenly 
with tears at the sight of the dead man's accou- 
trements lying on the Union Jack that serves a 
soldier for a pall. As she dried them she saw 
Leonard. 



44 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

Drawn up in accurate line with the edge of 
the road, O'Reilly was standing to salute ; and 
as near to the Irish private as he could squeeze 
himself stood the boy, his whole body stretched 
to the closest possible imitation of his new and 
deeply revered friend, his left arm glued to his 
side, and the back of his little right hand laid 
against his brow, gazing at the pathetic pageant 
as it passed him with devouring eyes. And 
behind them stood Blind Baby, beating upon 
his basket. 

For the basket had been recovered, and Blind 
Baby's equanimity also ; and he wandered up 
and down the parade again in the sun, long after 
the soldier's funeral had wailed its way to the 
graveyard, over the heather-covered hill. 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 45 



CHAPTER IV. 

** My mind is in the anomalous condition of hating war, and 
loving its discipline, which has been an incalculable contri- 
bution to the sentiment of duty the devotion of the 

common soldier to his leader (the sign for him of hard duty^, 
is the type of all higher devotedness, and is full of promise to 
other and better generations." — George Eliot. 

^' Your sister is as nice as nice can be, 
Rupert ; and I like the barrack master very much 
too. He is stout ! But he is very active and 
upright, and his manners to his wife are wonder- 
fully pretty. Do you know, there is something 
to me most touching in the way these two have 
knocked about the world together, and seem so 
happy with so little. Cottagers could hardly 
live more simply, and yet their ideas, or at any 
rate their experiences, seem so much larger 
than one's own." 

*' My dear Jane ! if you've taken them up 
from the romantic point of view, all is, indeed, 
accomplished. I know the wealth of your im- 
agination, and the riches of its charity. If, in 
such a mood, you will admit that Jones is stout, 
he must be fat indeed ! Never again upbraid 
me with the price that I paid for that Chip- 



46 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

pendale arm-chair. It will hold the barrack 
master." 

4 

** Rupert ! — I cannot help saying it — it 
ought to have held him long ago. It makes 
me miserable to think that they have never been 
under our roof.*' 

**Jane! Be miserable if you must; but, at 
least, be accurate. The barrack master was in 
India when I bought that paragon of all Chips, 
and he has only come home this year. Nay, my 
dear ! Don't be vexed ! I give you my word, 
I'm a good deal more ashamed than I like to 
own to think how Adelaide has been treated 
by the family — with me at its head. Did you 
make my apologies to-day, and tell her that I 
shall ride out to-morrow and pay my respects 
to her and Jones? " 

" Of course. I told her you were obliged to 
go to town, and I would not delay to call and 
ask if I could be of use to them. I begged 
them to come here till their quarters are quite 
finished ; but they won't. They say they are 
settled. I could not say much, because we 
ought to have asked them sooner. He is 
rather on his dignity with us, I think, and no 
wonder." 

" He's disgustingly on his dignity ! They 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 47 

both are. Because the family resented the 
match at first, they have refused every kind of 
help that one would have been glad to give 
him as Adelaide's husband, if only to secure 
their being in a decent position. Neither inter- 
est nor money would he accept, and Adelaide 
has followed his lead. She has very little of 
her own, unfortunately; and she knows how 
my father left things as well as I do, and never 
would accept a farthing more than her bare 
rights. I tried some dodges, through Quills; 
but it was of no use. The vexation is that he 
has taken this post of barrack master as a sort 
of pension, which need never have been. I 
suppose they have to make that son an allow- 
ance. It's not likely he lives on his pay. I 
can't conceive how they scrub along." 

And as the Master of the House threw him- 
self into the paragon of all Chips, he ran his 
fingers through hair, the length and disorder 
of which would have made the barrack master 
feel positively ill, with a gesture of truly dra- 
matic despair. 

** Your sister has made her room look won- 
derfully pretty. One would never imagine 
those huts could look as nice as they do inside. 
But it's like playing with a doll's house. One 



48 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

feels inclined to examine everything, and to be 
quite pleased that the windows have glass in 
them and will really open and shut." 

The Master of the House raised his eyebrows 
funnily. 

" You did take rose-colored spectacles with 
you to the camp ! " 

Lady Jane laughed. 

'' I did not see the camp itself through them. 
What an incomparably dreary place it is ! It 
makes me think of little woodcuts in missionary 
reports — ' Sketch of a Native Settlement ' — 
rows of little black huts that look, at a distance, 
as if one must creep into them on all-fours ; 
nobody about, and an iron church on the hill." 

" Most accurately described ! And you won- 
der that I regret that a native settlement should 
have been removed from the enchanting distance 
of missionary reports to become my permanent 
neighbor? " 

'' Well, I must confess the effect it produces 
on me is to make me feel quite ashamed of the 
peace and pleasure of this dear old place, the 
shade and greenery outside, the space above 
my head, and the lovely things before my eyes 
inside (for you know, Rupert, how I appreciate 
your decorative tastes, though I have so few 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 49 

myself. I only scolded about the Chip because 
I think you might have got him for less) — 
when so many men bred to similar comforts, 
and who have served their country so well, with 
wives I dare say quite as delicate as I am, 
have to be cooped up in those ugly little ken- 
nels in that dreary place — " 

" What an uncomfortable thing a Scotch 
conscience is ! " interrupted the Master of the 
House. *^ By-the-by, those religious instincts, 
which are also characteristic of your race, must 
have found one redeeming feature in the camp, 
the ' iron church on the hill ' ; especially as I 
imagine that it is puritanically ugly ! " 

" There was a funeral going into it as we 
drove into camp, and I wanted to tell you the 
horses were very much frightened." 

** Richards fidgets those horses ; they're quiet 
enough with me." 

"They did not like the military band." 

"They must get used to the band and to 
other military nuisances. It is written in the 
stars, as I too clearly foresee, that we shall be 
driving in and out of that camp three days a 
week. I can't go to my club without meeting 
men I was at school with who are stationed at 
Asholt, and expect me to look them up. As 



50 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

to the women, I met a man yesterday who is 
living in a hut, and expects a dowager countess 
and her two daughters for the ball. He has 
given up his dressing-room to the dowager, 
and put two barrack beds into the coal-hole for 
the young ladies, he says. It's an insanity ! " 

*' Adelaide told me about the ball. The 
camp seems very gay just now. They have had 
theatricals; and there is to be a grand field 
day this week." 

*' So our visitors have already informed me. 
They expect to go. Louisa Mainwaring is look- 
ing handsomer than ever, and I have always 
regarded her as a girl with a mind. I took her 
to see the peep I have cut opposite to the island, 
and I could not imagine why those fine eyes of 
hers looked so blank. Presently she said, * I 
suppose you can see the camp from the little 
pine-wood ? ' And to the little pine-wood we 
had to go. Both the girls have got stiff necks 
with craning out of the carriage window to 
catch sight of the white tents among the 
heather as they came along in the train." 

** I suppose we must take them to the field 
day; but I am very nervous about those horses, 
Rupert." 

** The horses will be taken out before any 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 5 1 

firing begins. As to bands, the poor creatures 
must learn, like their master, to endure the 
brazen liveliness of military music. It's no 
fault of mine that our nerves are scarified by 
any sounds less soothing than the crooning of 
the wood-pigeons among the pines ! " 

No one looked forward to the big field day 
with keener interest than Leonard ; and only a 
few privileged persons knew more about the 
arrangements for the day than he had con- 
trived to learn. 

O'Reilly was sent over with a note from Mrs. 
Jones to decline the offer of a seat in Lady 
Jane's carriage for the occasion. She was not 
very well. Leonard waylaid the messenger, 
(whom he hardly recognized as a tidy one!) 
and O'Reilly gladly imparted all that he knew 
about the field day : and this was a good deal. 
He had it from a friend — a corporal in the 
headquarters office. 

As a rule, Leonard only enjoyed a limited 
popularity with his mother's visitors. He was 
very pretty and very amusing, and had better 
qualities even than these ; but he was restless 
and troublesome. On this occasion, however, 
the young ladies suffered him to trample their 
dresses and interrupt their conversation without 



52 THE STORY OK A SHORT LIFE. 

remonstrance. He knew more about the field 
day than any one in the house, and, stand- 
ing among their pretty furbelows and fancy- 
work in stiff military attitudes, he imparted his 
news with an unsuccessful imitation of an Irish 
accent. 

*' O'Reilly says the march past '11 be at eleven 
o'clock on the Sandy Slopes." 

** Louisa, is that Major O'Reillyof the Rifles?" 

** I don't know, dear. Is your friend O'Reilly 
in the Rifles, Leonard ? " 

'^ I don't know. I know he's an owld soldier 
— he told me so." 

'* Old, Leonard ; not owld. You mustn't talk 
like that." 

" I shall if I like. He does, and I mean to." 

*' I dare say he did, Louisa. He's always 
joking." 

'* No he isn't. He didn't joke when the fu- 
neral went past. He looked quite grave, as if 
he was saying his prayers, and stood so!' 

" How touching! " 

*' How like him ! " 

'* How graceful and tender-hearted Irishmen 
are ! " 

*'I stood so, too. I mean to do as like him 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 53 

as ever I can. I do love him so very, very 
much ! " 

'' Dear boy ! " 

** You good, affectionate little soul ! " 

** Give me a kiss, Leonard dear." 

" No, thank you. I'm too old for kissing. 
He's going to march past, and he's going to 
look out for me with the tail of his eye, and 
I'm going to look out for him." 

*' Do, Leonard ; and mind you tell us when 
you see him coming." 

" I can't promise. I might forget. But per- 
haps you can know him by the good-conduct 
stripe on his arm. He used to have two ; but 
he lost one all along of St. Patrick's day." 

" That can*t be your partner, Louisa ! " 

" Officers never have good-conduct stripes." 

" Leonard, you ought not to talk to common 
soldiers. You've got a regular Irish brogue, 
and you're learning all sorts of ugly words. 
You'll grow up quite a vulgar little boy, if you 
don't take care." 

" I don't want to take care. I like being 
Irish, and I shall be a vulgar little boy too, if I 
choose. But when I do grow up, I am going 
to grow into an owld, owld, owld soldier ! " 

Leonard made this statement of his intentions 



54 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

in his clearest manner. After which, having 
learned that the favor of the fair is fickleness, 
he left the ladies, and went to look for his black 
puppy. 

The Master of the House, in arranging for his 
visitors to go to the field day, had said that 
Leonard was not to be of the party. He had 
no wish to encourage the child*s fancy for sol- 
diers ; and as Leonard was invariably restless 
out driving, and had a trick of kicking people's 
shins in his changes of mood and position, he 
was a most uncomfortable element in a carriage 
full of ladies. But it is needless to say that 
he stoutly resisted his father's decree ; and the 
child's disappointment was so bitter, and he 
howled and wept himself into such a deplorable 
condition, that the young ladies sacrificed their 
own comfort and the crispness of their new 
dresses to his grief, and petitioned the Master 
of the House that he might be allowed to go. 

The Master of the House gave in. He was 
accustomed to yield where Leonard was con- 
cerned. But the concession proved only a pre- 
lude to another struggle. Leonard wanted the 
black puppy to go too. 

On this point the young ladies presented no 
petition. Leonard's boots they had resolved to 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 55 

endure, but not the dog's paws. Lady Jane, 
too, protested against the puppy, and the matter 
seemed settled ; but at the last moment, when 
all but Leonard were in the carriage, and the 
horses chafing to be off, the child made his ap- 
pearance, and stood on the entrance-steps with 
his puppy in his arms, and announced, in digni- 
fied sorrow, " I really cannot go if my Sweep 
has to be left behind.'* 

With one consent the grown-up people turned 
to look at him. 

Even the intoxicating delight that color 
gives can hardly exceed the satisfying pleasure 
in which beautiful proportions steep the sense 
of sight; and one is often at fault to find the 
law that has been so exquisitely fulfilled, when 
the eye has no doubt of its own satisfaction. 

The shallow stone steps, on the top of which 
Leonard stood, and the old doorway that 
framed him, had this mysterious grace, and, 
truth to say, the boy's beauty was a jewel not 
unworthy of its setting. 

A holiday dress of crimson velvet, with collar 
and ruffles of old lace, became him very quaintly ; 
and as he laid a cheek like a rose-leaf against 
the sooty head of his pet, and they both gazed 
piteously at the carriage, even Lady Jane's 



56 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

conscience was stifled by motherly pride. He 
was her only child, but as he had said of the 
orderly, " a very splendid sort of one." 

The Master of the House stamped his foot 
with an impatience that was partly real and 
partly, perhaps, affected. 

** Well, get in somehow, if you mean to. The 
horses can't wait all day for you." 

No ruby-throated humming bird could have 
darted more swiftly from one point to another 
than Leonard from the old gray steps into the 
carriage. Little boys can be very careful when 
they choose, and he trod on no toes and crum- 
pled no finery in his flitting. 

To those who know dogs, it is needless to 
say that the puppy showed an even superior 
discretion. It bore throttling without a struggle. 
Instinctively conscious of the alternative of be- 
ing shut up in a stable for the day, and left 
there to bark its heart out, it shrank patiently 
into Leonard's grasp, and betrayed no sign of 
life except in the strained and pleading anxiety 
which a puppy's eyes so often wear. 

** Your dog is a very good dog, Leonard, I 
must say," said Louisa Mainwaring; **but he's 
very ugly. I never saw such legs ! " 

Leonard tucked the lank black legs under his 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 57 

velvet and ruffles. "Oh, he's all right," he said. 
** He'll be very handsome soon. It's his ugly 
month." 

" I wonder you didn't insist on our bringing 
Uncle Rupert and his dog to complete the 
party," said the Master of the House. 

The notion tickled Leonard, and he laughed 
so heartily that the puppy's legs got loose, and 
required to be tucked in afresh. Then both 
remained quiet for several seconds, during 
which the puppy looked as anxious as ever; 
but Leonard's face wore a smile of dreamy 
content that doubled its loveliness. 

But as the carriage passed the windows of 
the library a sudden thought struck him, and 
dispersed his repose. 

Gripping his puppy firmly under his arm, he 
sprang to his feet — regardless of other people's 
— and, waving his cap and feather above his 
head, he cried aloud, ** Good by. Uncle Rupert ! 
Can you hear me ? Uncle Rupert, I say ! I 
am — Icetus — sorte — mea ! " 



All the camp was astir. 

Men and bugles awoke with the dawn and 
the birds, and now the women and children of 



58 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

all ranks were on the alert. (Nowhere does so 
large and enthusiastic a crowd collect ** to see 
the pretty soldiers go by" as in those places 
where pretty soldiers live.) 

Soon after gun-fire O'Reilly made his way 
from his own quarters to those of the barrack 
master, opened the back door by some process 
best known to himself, and had been busy 
for half an hour in the drawing-room be- 
fore his proceedings woke the Colonel. They 
had been as noiseless as possible ; but the 
Colonel's dressing-room opened into the draw- 
ing-room, his bedroom opened into that, and 
all the doors and windows were open to court 
the air. 

*' Who's there?" said the Colonel from his 
pillow. 

"'Tis O'Reilly, sir. I ask your pardon, sir; 
but I heard that the mistress was not well. 
She'll be apt to want the reclining-chair, sir; 
and 'twas damaged in the unpacking. I got 
the screws last night, but I was busy soldiering* 
till too late; so I come in this morning, for 
Smith's no good at a job of the kind at all. 
He's a butcher to his trade." 

* "Soldiering" — a barrack term for the furbishing up of 
accoutrements, etc. 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 59 

**Mrs. Jones is much obliged to you for 
thinking of it, O'Reilly." 

"'Tis an honor to oblige her, sir. I done it 
sound and secure. Tis as safe as a rock; but 
I'd like to nail a bit of canvas on from the porch 
to the other side of the hut, for shelter, in case 
she'd be sitting out to taste the air and see the 
troops go by. 'Twill not take me five minutes, 
if the hammering wouldn't be too much for the 
mistress. 'Tis a hot day, sir, for certain, till the 
guns bring the rain down." 

'* Put it up, if you've time." 

" I will, sir. I left your sword and gloves on 
the kitchen-table, sir; and I told Smith to 
water the rose before the sun's on to it." 

With which O'Reilly adjusted the cushions of 
the invalid chair, and having nailed up the bit 
of canvas outside, so as to form an impromptu 
veranda, he ran back to his quarters to put 
himself into marching order for the field day. 

The field day broke into smiles of sunshine 
too early to be lasting. By breakfast-time the 
rain came down without waiting for the guns ; 
but those most concerned took the changes of 
weather cheerfully, as soldiers should. Rain 
damages uniforms, but it lays dust; and the 
dust of the Sandy Slopes was dust indeed ! 



60 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

After a pelting shower the sun broke forth 
again, and from that time onwards the weather 
was *' Queen's weather/* and Asholt was at its 
best. The sandy camp lay girdled by a zone 
of the verdure of early summer, which passed 
by miles of distance, through exquisite grada- 
tions of many blues, to meet the soft threaten- 
ings of the changeable sky; those lowering 
and yet tender rain-clouds which hover over the 
British Isles, guardian spirits of that scantily 
recognized blessing — a temperate climate ; 
naiads of the waters over the earth, whose 
caprices betwixt storm and sunshine fling such 
beauty upon a landscape as has no parallel 
except in the common simile of a fair face 
quivering between tears and smiles. 

Smiles were in the ascendant as the regiments 
began to leave their parade grounds, and the 
surface of the camp (usually quiet, even to dul- 
ness) sparkled with movement. Along every 
principal road the color and glitter of marching 
troops rippled like streams, and as the band of 
one regiment died away another broke upon 
the excited ear. 

At the outlets of the camp eager crowds 
waited patiently in the dusty hedges to greet 
favorite regiments, or watch for personal friends 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 6 1 

amongst the troops ; and on the ways to the 
Sandy Slopes every kind of vehicle, from a 
drag to a donkey-cart, and every variety of 
pedestrian, from an energetic tourist carrying a 
field- glass to a more admirably energetic mother 
carrying a baby, disputed the highway with 
cavalry in brazen breastplates, and horse- 
artillery whose gallant show was drowned in 
its own dust. 

Lady Jane*s visitors had expressed themselves 
as anxious not to miss anything, and troops 
were still pouring out of the camp when the 
Master of the House brought his skittish horses 
to where a " block " had just occurred at the 
turn to the Sandy Slopes. 

What the shins and toes of the visitors en- 
dured whilst that knot of troops of all arms dis- 
entangled itself and streamed away in gay and 
glittering lines, could only have been concealed 
by the supreme powers of endurance latent in 
the weaker sex ; for with the sight of every fresh 
regiment Leonard changed his plans for his own 
future career, and with every change he forgot 
a fresh promise to keep quiet, and took by storm 
that corner of the carriage which for the moment 
offered the best point of view. 

Suddenly, through the noise and dust, and 



62 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

above the dying away of conflicting bands into 
the distance, there came another sound — a 
sound unlike any other — the skirling of the 
pipes ; and Lady Jane sprang up and put her 
arms about her son, and bade him watch for 
the Highlanders, and if Cousin Alan looked up 
as he went past to cry "Hurrah for Bonnie 
Scotland ! " 

For this sound and this sight — the bagpipes 
and the Highlanders — a sandy-faced Scotch 
lad on the tramp to Southampton had waited for 
an hour past, frowning and freckling his face in 
the sun, and exasperating a naturally </^«r tem- 
per by reflecting on the probable pride and 
heartlessness of folk who wore such soft com- 
plexions and pretty clothes as the ladies and 
the little boy in the carriage on the other side 
of the road. 

But when the skirling of the pipes cleft the 
air his cold eyes softened as he caught sight of 
Leonard's face, and the echo that he made to 
Leonard's cheer was caught up by the good- 
humored crowd, who gave the Scotch regiment 
a willing ovation as it swung proudly by. After 
which the carriage moved on, and for a time 
Leonard sat very still. He was thinking of 
Cousin Alan and his comrades ; of the tossing 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 63 

plumes that shade their fierce eyes; of the 
swing of kilt and sporran with their unfettered 
limbs ; of the rhythmic tread of their white feet 
and the fluttering ribbons on the bagpipes; 
and of Alan's handsome face looking out of his 
most becoming bravery. 

The result of his meditations Leonard an- 
nounced with his usual lucidity: — 

** I am Scotch, not Irish, though O'Reilly is 
the nicest man I ever knew. But I must tell 
him that I really cannot grow up into an owld 
soldier, because I mean to be a young High- 
land officer, and look at ladies with my eyes 
like this — and carry my sword so/*' 



64 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 



CHAPTER V. 

** Oh that a man might know the end of this day's business 
ere it comes ! " — yulius Ctesar, 

Years of living amongst soldiers had in- 
creased, rather than diminished, Mrs. Jones's 
relish for the sights and sounds of military life. 

The charm of novelty is proverbially great, 
but it is not so powerful as that peculiar spell 
which drew the retired tallow-chandler back to 
''shop" on melting-days, and which guided the 
choice of the sexton of a cemetery who only 
took one holiday trip in the course of seven 
years, and then he went to a cemetery at some 
distance to see how they managed matters there. 
And, indeed, poor humanity may be very thank- 
ful for the infatuation, since it goes far to make 
life pleasant in the living to plain folk who do 
not make a point of being discontented. 

In obedience to this law of nature, the bar- 
rack master's wife did exactly what O'Reilly had 
expected her to do. As she could not drive to 
the field day, she strolled out to see the troops 
go by. Then the vigor derived from breakfast 
and the freshness of the morning air began 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 6$ 

to fail, the day grew hotter, the camp looked 
dreary and deserted, and, either from physical 
weakness or from some untold cause, a name- 
less anxiety, a sense of trouble in the air, be- 
gan to oppress her. 

Wandering out again to try and shake it off, 
it was almost a relief, like the solving of a 
riddle, to find Blind Baby sitting upon his big 
drum, too low-spirited to play the Dead March, 
and crying because all the bands had " gone 
right away." Mrs. Jones 
made friends with him, 
and led him off to her hut 
for consolation, and he 
was soon as happy as ever, 
standing by the piano and 
beating upon his basket 
in time to the tunes she 
played for him. But the 
day and the hut grew 
hotter, and her back ached, 
and the nameless anxiety 
re-asserted itself, and was 
not relieved by Blind Baby's preference for the 
Dead March over every other tune with which 
she tried to beguile him. 

And when he had gone back to his own 



66 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

parade, with a large piece of cake and many 
assurances that the bands would undoubtedly 
return, and the day wore on, and the hut be- 
came like an oven (in the absence of any 
appliances to mitigate the heat), the barrack 
master's wife came to the hasty conclusion that 
Asholt was hotter than India, whatever ther- 
mometers might say; and, too weary to seek 
for breezes outside, or to find a restful angle of 
the reclining chair inside, she folded her hands 
in her lap and abandoned herself to the most 
universal remedy for most ills — patience. And 
patience was its own reward, for she fell asleep. 

Her last thoughts as she dozed off were of 
her husband and her son, wishing that they 
were safe home again, that she might assure 
herself that it was not on their account that 
there was trouble in the air. Then she dreamed 
of being roused by the Colonel's voice saying, 
*' I have bad news to tell you — " and was 
really awakened by straining in her dream to 
discover what hindered him from completing 
his sentence. 

She had slept some time ; it was now after- 
noon, and the air was full of sounds of the 
returning bands. She went out into the road 
and saw the barrack master (he was easy to 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 6^ 

distinguish at some distance!) pause on his 
homeward way, and then she saw her son 
running to join his father, with his sword under 
his arm ; and they came on together, talking 
as they^came. 

And as soon as they got within earshot she 
said, '' Have you bad news to tell me?" 

The Colonel ran up and drew her hand within 
his arm. 

" Come indoors, dear love." 

*^You are both well? " 

" Both of us. Brutally so." 

*' Quite well, dear mother." 

Her son was taking her other hand into 
caressing care ; there could be no doubt about 
the bad news. 

*' Please tell me what it is." 

" There has been an accident — " 

"To whom?" 

'' To your brother's child ; that jolly little 
chap—" 

*'0 Henry! how?" 

*' He was standing up in the carriage, I be- 
lieve, with a dog in his arms. George saw him 
when he went past — didn't you ? " 

'* Yes. I wonder he didn't fall then. I 
fancy some one had told him it was our regi- 



68 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

ment. The dog was struggling, but he would 
take off his hat to us — " 

The young soldier choked, and added with 
difficulty, " I think I never saw so lovely a face. 
Poor little cousin ! " 

'' And he overbalanced himself? " 

'' Not when George saw him. I believe it 
was when the horse artillery were going by at 
the gallop. They say he got so much excited, 
and the dog barked, and they both fell. Some 
say there were people moving a drag, and some 
that he fell under the horse of a patrol. Any- 
how, I'm afraid he's very much hurt. They 
took him straight home in an ambulance- 
wagon to save time. Erskine went with him. 
I sent off a telegram for them for a swell sur- 
geon from town, and Lady Jane promised a 
line if I send over this evening. O'Reilly must 
go after dinner and wait for the news." 

O'Reilly, sitting stiffly amid the coming and 
going of the servants at the Hall, was too deeply 
devoured by anxiety to trouble himself as to 
whether the footman's survey of his uniform 
bespoke more interest or contempt. But when 
— just after gun fire had sounded from the dis- 
tant camp — Jemima brought him the long- 
waited for note, he caught the girl's hand, and 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 69 

held it for some moments before he was able 
to say, '*Just tell me, miss; is it good news or 
bad that I'll be carrying back in this bit of 
paper? '* And as Jemima only answered by 
sobs, he added, almost impatiently, " Will he 
live, dear? Nod your head if ye can do no 
more.*' 

Jemima nodded, and the soldier dropped her 
hand, drew a long- breath, and gave himself one 
of those shakes with which an Irishman so 
often throws off care. 

'' Ah, then, dry your eyes, darlin' ; while 
there's life there's hope." 

But Jemima sobbed still. 

" The doctor — from London — says he may 
live a good while, but — but — he's to be a crip- 
ple all his days ! " 

" Now wouldn't I rather be meeting a tiger 
this evening than see the mistress's face when 
she gets that news ! " 

And O'Reilly strode back to camp. 

Going along through a shady part of the road 
in the dusk, seeing nothing but the red glow of 
the pipe with which he was consoling himself, the 
soldier stumbled against a lad sleeping on the 
grass by the roadside. It was the tramping 
Scotchman, and as he sprang to his feet the two 



70 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

Kelts broke into a fiery dialogue that seemed as 
if it could only come to blows. 

It did not. It came to the good-natured 
soldier's filling the wayfarer's pipe for him. 

*' Much good may it do ye ! And maybe the 
next time a decent man that's hastening home 
on the wings of misfortune stumbles against 
ye, ye'll not be so apt to take offence." 

"I ask your pardon, man; I was barely 
wakened, and I took ye for one of these gay 
redcoats blustering hame after a bloodless 
battle on the field day, as they ca* it." 

"Bad luck to the field day! A darker 
never dawned ; and wouldn't a bloodier battle 
have spared a child ? " 

*'Your child? What's happened to the 
bairn ? " 

" My child indeed ! And his mother a lady 
of title, no less." 

"What's got him?" 

" Fell out of the carriage, and was trampled 
into a cripple for all the days of his life. He 
that had set as fine a heart as ever beat on 
being a soldier; and a grand one he'd have 
made. * Sure 'tis a nobleman ye'll be,' says I. 
* 'Tis an owld soldier I mean to be, O'Reilly,' 
says he. And — " 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 7 1 

"Fond of the soldiers — his mother a leddy? 
Man ! Had he a braw new velvet coat and the 
face of an angel on him?" 

" He had so/' 

"And I that thocht they'd all this warld 
could offer them ! — A cripple ? Ech sirs ! " 



72 THE STORV OF A SHORT LIFE. 



CHAPTER VI. 

** I will do it . . . for I am weak by nature, and very 
timorous, unless where a strong sense of duty holdeth and sup- 
porteth me. There God acteth, and not His creature." — Lady 
Jane Grey, 

Leonard was to some extent a spoiled child. 
But it demands a great deal of unselfish fore- 
sight, and of self-discipline, to do more for a 
beautiful and loving pet than play with it. 

And if his grace and beauty and high spirits 
had been strong temptations to give him every- 
thing he desired, and his own way above all, 
how much greater were the excuses for indul- 
ging every whim when the radiant loveliness of 
health had faded to the wan wistfulness of pain, 
when the young limbs bounded no more, and 
when his boyish hopes and hereditary ambi- 
tions were cut off by the shears of a destiny 
that seemed drearier than death ? 

As soon as the poor child was able to be 
moved, his parents took a place on the west 
coast of Scotland, and carried him thither. 

The neighborhood of Asholt had become in- 
tolerable to them for some time to come, and 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 73 

a soft climate and sea breezes were recom- 
mended for his general health. 

Jemima's dismissal was revoked. Leonard 
flatly, and indeed furiously, refused to have any 
other nurse. During the first crisis a skilled 
hospital nurse was engaged, but from the time 
that he fully recovered consciousness he would 
receive help from no hands but those of Jemima 
and Lady Jane. 

Far older and wiser patients than he become 
ruthless in their demands upon the time and 
strength of those about them ; and Leonard did 
not spare his willing slaves by night or by day. 
It increased their difficulties and his sufferings 
that the poor child was absolutely unaccustomed 
to prompt obedience, and disputed the doctor's 
orders as he had been accustomed to dispute 
all others. 

Lady Jane's health became very much broken, 
but Jemima was fortunately possessed of a sturdy 
body and an inactive mind, and with a devo- 
tion little less than maternal she gave up both 
to Leonard's service. 

He had a third slave of his bedchamber — 
a black one — the black puppy, from whom 
he had resolutely refused to part, and whom he 
insisted upon having upon his bed, to the 



74 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

doctor's disgust. When months passed, and 
the black puppy became a black dog, large and 
cumbersome, another effort was made to induce 
Leonard to part with him at night ; but he only 
complained bitterly. 

** It is very odd that there cannot be a bed 
big enough for me and my dog. I am an in- 
valid, and I ought to have what I want." 

So the Sweep remained as his bedfellow. 

The Sweep also played the part of the last 
straw in the drama of Jemima's life ; for Leon- 
ard would allow no one but his own dear nurse 
to wash his own dear dog ; and odd hours, in 
which Jemima might have snatched a little rest 
and relaxation, were spent by her in getting the 
big dog's still lanky legs into a tub, and keep- 
ing him there, and washing him, and drying and 
combing him into fit condition to spring back 
on to Leonard's coverlet when that imperious 
little invalid called for him. 

It was a touching manifestation of the dog's 
intelligence that he learned with the utmost 
care to avoid jostling or hurting the poor suffer- 
ing little body of his master. 

Leonard's fourth slave was his father. 

But the Master of the House had no faculty 
for nursing, and was by no means possessed 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 75 

of the patience needed to persuade Leonard for 
his good. So he could only be with the child 
when he was fit to be read or played to, and 
later on, when he was able to be out of doors. 
And at times he went away out of sight of his 
son's sufferings, and tried to stifle the remem- 
brance of a calamity and disappointment whose 
bitterness his own heart alone fully knew. 

After the lapse of nearly two years Leonard 
suddenly asked to be taken home. He was 
tired of the shore, and wanted to see if the 
Sweep remembered the park. He wanted to 
see if Uncle Rupert would look surprised to see 
him going about in a wheel-chair. He wanted 
to go to the camp again, now the doctor said 
he might have drives, and see if O'Reilly was 
alive still, and his uncle, and his aunt, and his 
cousin. He wanted father to play to him on 
their own organ, their very own organ, and — 
no, thank you ! — he did not want any other 
music now. 

He hated this nasty place, and wanted to go 
home. If he was going to live he wanted to live 
there, and if he was going to die he wanted to 
die there, and have his funeral his own way, if 
they knew a general and could borrow a gun 
carriage and a band. 



J6 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

He didn't want to eat or to drink, or to go to 
sleep, or to take his medicine, or to go out and 
send the Sweep into the sea, or to be read to 
or played to; he wanted to go home — home 
— home! 

The upshot of which was, that before his par- 
ents had time to put into words the idea that 
the agonizing associations of Asholt were still 
quite unendurable, they found themselves con- 
gratulating each other on having got Leonard 
safely home before he had cried himself into 
convulsions over twenty-four hours* delay. 

For a time, being at home seemed to revive 
him. He was in less pain, in better spirits, had 
more appetite, and was out a great deal with 
his dog and his nurse. But he fatigued him- 
self, which made him fretful, and he certainly 
grew more imperious every day. 

His whim was to be wheeled into every nook 
and corner of the place, inside and out, and to 
show them to the Sweep. And who could have 
had the heart to refuse him anything in the face 
of that dread affliction which had so changed 
him amid the unchanged surroundings of his 
old home? 

Jemima led the life of a prisoner on the tread- 
mill. When she wasn't pushing him about she 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. ^^ 

was going errands for him, fetching and carry- 
ing. She was ** never off her feet." 

He moved about a little now on crutches, 
though he had not strength to be very active 
with them, as some cripples are. But they be- 
came ready instruments of his impatience to 
thump the floor with one end, and not infre- 
quently to strike those who offended him with 
the other. 

His face was little less beautiful than of old, 
but it looked wan and weird; and his beauty 
was often marred by what is more destructive of 
beauty even than sickness — the pinched lines 
of peevishness and ill-temper. He suffered less, 
but he looked more unhappy, was more difficult 
to please, and more impatient with all efforts to 
please him. But then, though nothing is truer 
than that patience is its own reward, it has to 
be learned first. And, with children, what has 
to be learned must be taught. 

To this point Lady Jane's meditations brought 
her one day as she paced up and down her own 
morning-room, and stood before the window 
which looked down where the elm-trees made 
long shadows on the grass; for the sun was 
declining, greatly to Jemima's relief, who had 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 



been toiling in Leonard's service through the 
hottest hours of a summer day. 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 79 

Lady Jane had a tender conscience, and just 
now it was a very uneasy one. She was one of 
those somewhat rare souls who are by nature 
absolutely true. Not so much with elaborate 
avoidance of lying, or an aggressive candor, as 
straight-minded, single-eyed, clear-headed, and 
pure-hearted; a soul to which the truth and 
reality of things, and the facing of things, came 
as naturally as the sham of them and the blink- 
ing of them comes to others. 

When such a nature has strong affections it 
is no light matter if love and duty come into 
conflict. They were in conflict now, and the 
mother's heart was pierced with a two-edged 
sword. For if she truly believed what she 
believed, her duty towards Leonard was not 
only that of a tender mother to a suffering 
child, but the duty of one soul to another soul, 
whose responsibilities no man might deliver 
him from, nor make agreement unto God that 
he should be quit of them. 

And if the disabling of his body did not 
stop the developing, one way or another, of his 
mind ; if to learn fortitude and patience under 
his pains was not only his highest duty but his 
best chance of happiness ; then, if she failed to 
teach him these, of what profit was it that she 



8o THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

would willingly have endured all his sufferings 
ten times over that life might be all sunshine 
for him? 

And deep down in her truthful soul another 
thought rankled. No one but herself knew 
how the pride of her heart had been stirred by- 
Leonard's love for soldiers, his brave ambitions, 
the high spirit and heroic instincts which he 
inherited from a long line of gallant men and 
noblewomen. Had her pride been a sham? 
Did she only care for the courage of the battle- 
field ? Was she willing that her son should be 
a coward, because it was not the trumpet's 
sound that summoned him to fortitude? She 
had strung her heart to the thought that, like 
many a mother of her race, she might live to 
gird on his sword ; should she fail to help him 
to carry his cross? 

At this point a cry came from below the 
window, and looking out she saw Leonard, be- 
side himself with passion, raining blows like 
hail with his crutch upon poor Jemima; the 
Sweep watching matters nervously from under 
a garden seat. 

Leonard had been irritable all day, and this 
was the second serious outbreak. The first had 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 8 1 

sent the Master of the House to town with a 
deeply knitted brow. 

Vexed at being thwarted in some slight mat- 
ter, when he was sitting in his wheel-chair by 
the side of his father in the library, he had 
seized a sheaf of papers tied together with 
amber-colored ribbon, and had torn them to 
shreds. It was a fair copy of the first two 
cantos of The Soul's Satiety y a poem on which 
the Master of the House had been engaged for 
some years. He had not touched it in Scot- 
land, and was now beginning to work at it 
again. He could not scold his cripple child, 
but he had gone up to London in a far from 
comfortable mood. 

And now Leonard was banging poor Jemima 
with his crutches ! Lady Jane felt that her con- 
science had not roused her an hour too soon. 

The Master of the House dined in town, and 
Leonard had tea with his mother in her very 
own room ; and the Sweep had tea there too. 

And when the old elms looked black against 
the primrose-colored sky, and it had been 
Leonard's bedtime for half an hour past, the 
three were together still. 

" I beg your pardon, Jemima, I am very 



82 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

sorry, and TU never do so any more. I didn't 
want to beg your pardon before, because I was 
naughty, and because you trode on my Sweep's 
foot. But I beg your pardon now, because I 
am good — at least I am better, and I am going 
to try to be good." 

Leonard's voice was as clear as ever, and his 
manner as direct and forcible. Thus he con- 
trived to say so much before Jemima burst in 
(she was putting him to bed). 

" My lamb ! my pretty ; you're always 
good — " 

'* Don't tell stories, Jemima; and please don't 
contradict me, for it makes me cross ; and if I 
am cross I can't be good ; and if I am not good 
all to-morrow, I am not to be allowed to go 
down-stairs after dinner. And there's a V. C. 
coming to dinner, and I do want to see him 
more than I want anything else in all the 
world." 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 83 



CHAPTER VII. 

** What is there in the world to distinguish virtues from dis- 
honor, or that can make anything reward able, but the labor 
and the danger, the pain and the difficulty?" — Jeremy Taylor, 

The v. C. did not look like a bloodthirsty 
warrior. He had a smooth, oval, olivart face, 
and dreamy eyes. He was not very big, and he 
was absolutely unpretending. He was a young 
man, and only by the courtesy of his manners 
escaped the imputation of being a shy young 
man. 

Before the campaign in which he won his 
cross he was most distinctively known in society 
as having a very beautiful voice and a very 
charming way of singing, and yet as giving 
himself no airs on the subject of an accomplish- 
ment which makes some men almost intolerable 
by their fellow-men. 

He was a favorite with ladies on several ac- 
counts, large and small. Among the latter was 
his fastidious choice in the words of the songs 
he sang, and sang with a rare fineness of enun- 
ciation. 

It is not always safe to believe that a singer 
means what he sings ; but if he sing very noble 



84 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

words with justness and felicity, the ear rarely 
refuses to flatter itself that it is learning some 
of the secrets of a noble heart. 

Upon a silence that could be felt the last 
notes of such a song had just fallen. The V. C.'s 
lips were closed, and those of the Master of the 
House (who had been accompanying him) were 
still parted with a smile of approval, when the 
wheels of his chair and some little fuss at the 
drawing-room door announced that Leonard 
had come to claim his mother's promise. And 
when Lady Jane rose and went to meet him, 
the V. C. followed her. 

** There is my boy, of whom I told you. 
Leonard, this is the gentleman you have wished 
so much to see." 

The V. C, who sang so easily, was" not a 
ready speaker, and the sight of Leonard took 
him by surprise,. and kept him silent. He had 
been prepared to pity and be good-natured to 
a lame child who had a whim to see him ; but 
not for this vision of rare beauty, beautifully 
dressed, with crippled limbs lapped in Eastern 
embroideries by his color-loving father, and 
whose wan face and wonderful eyes were lam- 
bent with an intelligence so eager and so wist- 
ful, that the creature looked less like a morsel 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 85 

of suffering humanity than like a soul fretted by 
the brief detention of an all-but-broken chain. 

*' How do you do, V. C. ? I am very glad to 
see you. I wanted to see you more than any- 
thing in the world. I hope you don't mind 
seeing me because I have been a coward, for 
I mean to be brave now; and that is why I 
wanted to see you so much, because you are 
such a very brave man. The reason I was a 
coward was partly with being so cross when my 
back hurts, but particularly with hitting Jemima 
with my crutches, for no one but a coward 
strikes a woman. She trode on my dog's toes. 
This is my dog. Please pat him; he would 
like to be patted by a V. C. He is called the 
Sweep because he is black. He lives with me 
all along. I have hit hiniy but I hope I shall 
not be naughty again any more. I wanted to 
grow up into a brave soldier, but I don't think, 
perhaps, that I ever can now ; but mother says 
I can be a brave cripple. I would rather be a 
brave soldier, but I'm going to try to be a brave 
cripple. Jemima says there's no saying what 
you can do till you try. Please show me your 
Victoria Cross." 

'* It's on my tunic, and that's in my quarters 
in camp. I'm so sorry." 



86 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

" So am I. I knew you lived in camp. I 
like the camp, and I want you to tell me about 
your hut. Do you know my uncle, Colonel 
Jones? Do you know my aunt, Mrs. Jones? 
And my cousin, Mr. Jones? Do you know a 
very nice Irishman, with one good-conduct 
stripe, called O'Reilly? Do you know my 
cousin Alan in the Highlanders? But I believe 
he has gone away. I have so many things I 
want to ask you, and oh! — those ladies are 
coming after us ! They want to take you away. 
Look at that ugly old thing with a hook-nose, 
and an eye-glass, and a lace shawl, and a green 
dress ; she's just like the Poll parrot in the 
housekeeper's room. But she's looking at you. 
Mother ! mother dear ! Don't let them take 
him away. You did promise me, you know 
you did, that if I was good all to-day I should 
talk to the V. C. I can't talk to him if I can't 
have him all to myself. Do let us go into the 
library, and be all to ourselves. Do keep those 
women away, particularly the Poll parrot. Oh, 
I hope I sha'n't be naughty ! I do feel so im- 
patient ! I was good, you know I was. Why 
doesn't James come and show my friend into 
the library and carry me out of my chair?" 

** Let me carry you, little friend, and we'll 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 87 

run away together, and the company will say, 
* There goes a V. C. running away from a Poll 
parrot in a lace shawl ! ' " 

** Ha ! ha ! You are nice and funny. But 
can you carry me? Take off this thing! Did 
you ever carry anybody that had been hurt? " 

** Yes, several people — much bigger than 
you." 

**Men?*' 

** Men." 

*' Men hurt like me, or wounded in battle?" 

*' Wounded in battle." 

** Poor things ! Did they die? " 

" Some of them." 

" I shall die pretty soon, I believe. I meant 
to die young, but more grown-up than this, and 
in battle. About your age, I think. How old 
are you ? " 

" I shall be twenty-five in October." 

** That's rather old. I meant about Uncle 
Rupert's age.. He died in battle. He was 
seventeen. You carry very comfortably. Now 
we're safe ! Put me on the yellow sofa, please. 
I want all the cushions, because of my back. 
It's because of my back, you know, that I can't 
grow up into a soldier. I don't think I pos- 
sibly can. Soldiers do have to have such very 



88 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

Straight backs, and Jemima thinks mine will 
never be straight again *on this side the grave.' 
So I've got to try and be brave as I am ; and 
that's why I wanted to see you. Do you mind 
my talking rather more than you ? I have so 
very much to say, and I've only a quarter of 
an hour, because of its being long past my 
bedtime, and a good lot of that has gone." 

** Please talk, and let me listen." 

** Thank you. Pat the Sweep again, please. 
He thinks we're neglecting him. That's why 
he gets up and knocks you with his head." 

" Poor Sweep ! Good old dog ! " 

" Thank you. Now should you think that if 
I am very good, and not cross about a lot of 
pain in my back and my head — really a good 
lot — that that would count up to be as brave 
as having one wound if I'd been a soldier?" 

** Certainly." 

" Mother says it would, and I think it might. 
Not a very big wound, of course, but a poke 
with a spear, or something of that sort. It is 
very bad sometimes, particularly when it keeps 
you awake at night." 

*' My little friend, that would count for lying 
out all night wounded on the field when the 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 89 

battle's over. Soldiers are not always fight- 

• »» 
ing. 

" Did you ever lie out for a night on a battle- 
field?" 

" Yes, once." 

*' Did the night seem very long? " 

" Very long, and we were very thirsty." 

*' So am I sometimes, but I have barley- 
water and lemons by my bed, and jelly, and 
lots of things. You'd no barley-water, had 
you ? " 

'* No." 

"Nothing?" 

" Nothing till the rain fell, then we sucked 
our clothes." 

" It would take a lot of my bad nights to 
count up to that ! But I think when I'm ill in 
bed I might count that like being a soldier in 
hospital?" 

" Of course." 

** I thought — no matter how good I got to 
be — nothing could ever count up to be as 
brave as a real battle, leading your men on and 
fighting for your country, though you know you 
may be killed any minute. But mother says, 
if I could try very hard, and think of poor 
Jemima as well as myself, and keep brave in 



90 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

spite of feeling miserable, that then (particu- 
larly as I sha'n't be very long before I do die) 
it would be as good as if I'd lived to be as old 
as Uncle Rupert, and fought bravely when the 
battle was against me, and cheered on my men, 
though I knew I could never come out of it 
alive. Do you think it could count up to that ? 
Do you? Oh, do answer me, and don't stroke 
my head ! I get so impatient. You've been 
in battles — do you ? " 

-I do, I do." 

** You're a V. C, and you ought to know. I 
suppose nothing — not even if I could be good 
always, from this minute right away till I die — 
nothing could ever count up to the courage of 
a V. C?" 

'* God knows it could, a thousand times 
over ! " 

** Where are you going? Please don't go. 
Look at me. They're not going to chop the 
Queen's head off, are they?" 

*' Heaven forbid ! What are you thinking 
about?" 

'* Why, because — Look at me again. Ah ! 
you've winked it away, but your eyes were 
full of tears ; and the only other brave man I 
ever heard of crying was Uncle Rupert, and 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 91 

that was because he knew they were going to 
chop the poor King's head off." 

"That was enough to make anybody cry." 
"I know it was. But do you know now, 
when I'm wheeling about in my chair and play- 
ing with him, and he looks at me wherever I 



go ; sometimes for a bit I forget about the 
King, and I fancy he is sorry for me. Sorry, I 
mean, that I can't jump about, and creep under 
the table. Under the table was the only place 
where I could get out of the sight of his eyes. 
Oh, dear! there's Jemima." 

" But you are going to be good? " 



92 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

** I know I am. And I'm going to do lessons 
again. I did a little French this morning — a 
story. Mother did most of it; but I know 
what the French officer called the poor old 
French soldier when he went to see him in a 
hospital." 

-What?" 

** Mon brave. That means * my brave fel- 
low.' A nice name, wasn't it?" 

"Very nice. Here's Jemima," 

** I'm coming, Jemima. I'm not going to be 
naughty ; but you may go back to the chair, 
for this officer will carry me. He carries so 
comfortably. Come along, my Sweep. Thank 
you so much. You have put me in beautifully. 
Kiss me, please. Good night, V. C." 

*' Good night, mon braved 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 93 



CHAPTER VIII. 

" I am a man of no strength at all of body, nor yet of mind; 
but would, if I could, though I can but crawl, spend my life in 
the pilgrims' way. When I came at the gate that is at the 
head of the way, the lord of that place did entertain me freely 
. . . gave me such things that were necessary for my jour« 
ney, and bid roe hope to the end. . . . Other brunts I also 
look for; but this I have resolved on, to wit, to run when I 
can, to go when I cannot run, and to creep when I cannot go. 
As to the main, I thank Him that loves me, I am fixed; my 
way is before me, my mind is beyond the river that has no 
bridge, though I am as you see." 

♦* And behold — Mr, Ready-to-halt came by with his crutches 
in his hand, and he was also going on pilgrimage." — Bunyah*s 
Pilgrim's Progress. 

** And if we tie itwith the amber-colored rib- 
bon, then every time I have it out to put in a 
new poor thing, I shall remember how very 
naughty I was, and how I spoilt your poetry." 

** Then we'll certainly tie it with something 
else," said the Master of the House, and he 
jerked away the ribbon with a gesture as deci- 
sive as his words. ** Let bygones be bygones. 
If / forget it, you needn't remember it ! " 

"Oh, but, indeed, I ought to remember it; 
and I do think I better had — to remind myself 
never, never to be so naughty again ! " 



94 J'HK STORY OK A SHORT LIFE. 

** Your mother's own son ! " muttered the 
Master of the House; and he added aloud: 
'* Well, I forbid you to remember it — so there ! 
It'll be naughty if you do. Here's some red 
ribbon. That should please you, as you're 
so fond of soldiers." 

Leonard and his father were seated side by 
side at a table in the library. The dog lay at 
their feet. 

They were very busy ; the Master of the 
House working under Leonard's direction, who, 
issuing his orders from his wheel-chair, was so 
full of anxiety and importance, that when Lady 
Jane opened the library door he knitted his 
brow and put up one thin little hand, in a 
comically old-fashioned manner, to deprecate 
interruption. 

*' Don't make any disturbance, mother dear, 
if you please. Father and I are very much 
engaged." 

*' Don't you think, Len, it would be kind to 
let poor mother see what we are doing, and tell 
her about it?" 

Leonard pondered an instant. 

-Well — I don't mind." 

Then, as his mother's arm came round him, 
he added, impetuously : — 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 95 

" Yes, I should like to. Vou can show, father 
dear, and 77/ do all the explaining." 

The Master of the House displayed some 
sheets of paper, tied with ribbon, which already 
contained a good deal of his handiwork, including 
a finely illuminated capital L on the title-page. 

" It is to be called the * Book of Poor Things,' 
mother dear. We're doing it in bits first; then 
it will be bound. It's a collection — a collec- 
tion of poor things who've been hurt, like me ; 
or blind like the organ-tuner; or had their 
heads — no, not their heads, they couldn't go 
on doing things after that — had their legs or 
their arms chopped off in battle, and are very 
good and brave about it, and manage very, very 
nearly as well as people who have got nothing 
the matter with them. Father doesn't think 
* Poor Things ' is a good name. He wanted to 
call it * Masters of Fate,* because of some 
poetry. What was it, father? " 

** * Man is Man and Master of his Fate,' " 
quoted the Master of the House. 

'* Yes, that's it. But I don't understand it so 
well as poor things. They are poor things, you 
know, and, of course, we shall only put in brave 
poor things: not cowardly poor things. It 
was all my idea only father is doing the ruling, 



96 THE STORY O?^ A SHORT LIFE. 

and printing, and illuminating for me. I 
thought of it when the organ-tuner was here." 

** The organ-tuner? " 

*' Yes, I heard the organ, and I made James 
carry me in, and put me in the arm-chair close 
to the organ. And the tuner was tuning, and 
he looked round, and James said, * It's the 
young gentleman ' ; and the tuner said, ' Good 
morning, sir,' and I said, * Good morning, tuner ; 
go on tuning, please, for I want to see you do 
it.' And he went on; and he dropped a tin 
thing, like a big extinguisher, on to the floor; 
and he got down to look for it, and he felt 
about in such a funny way that I burst out 
laughing. I didn't mean to be rude ; I couldn't 
help it. And I said, 'Can't you see it? It's 
just under the table.' And he said, * I can't see 
anything, sir ; I'm stone blind.' And he said, 
perhaps I would be kind enough to give it 
him. And I said I was very sorry, but I hadn't 
got my crutches, and so I couldn't get out of 
my chair without some one to help me. And 
he was so awfully sorry for me, you can't think ! 
He said he didn't know I was more afflicted 
than he was ; but I was awfully sorry for him, 
for I've tried shutting my eyes ; and you can 
bear it just a minute, but then you must open 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 97 

them to see again. And I said, * How can you 
do anything when you see nothing but blackness 
all along? ' And he says he can do well enough 
as long as he's spared the use of his limbs to earn 
his own livelihood. And I said, ' Are there any 
more blind men, do you think, that earn their own 
livelihood? I wish I could earn mine ! ' And he 
said, * There are a good many blind tuners, sir.' 
And I said, * Go on tuning, please : I like to hear 
you do it.' And he went on, and I did like him 
so much. Do you know the blind tuner, 
mother dear? And don't you like him very 
much ? I think he is just what you think very 
good, and I think V. C. would think it nearly 
as brave as a battle to be afflicted and go on 
earning your own livelihood when you can see 
nothing but blackness all along. Poor man ! " 

** I do think it very good of him, my darling, 
and very brave." 

'*I knew you would. And then I thought 
perhaps there are lots of brave afflicted peo- 
ple — poor things ! and perhaps there never 
was anybody but me who wasn't. And I 
wished I knew their names, and I asked the 
tuner his name, and he told me. And then I 
thought of my book, for a good idea — a col- 
lection, you know. And I thought perhaps, 



98 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

by degrees, I might collect three hundred and 
sixty-five poor things, all brave. And so I am 
making father rule it like his diary, and we've 
got the tuner's name down for the First of Janu- 
ary; and if you can think of anybody else 
you must tell me, and if I think they're 
afflicted enough and brave enough, I'll put 
them in. But I shall have to be rather partic- 
ular, for we don't want to fill up too fast. Now, 
father, I've done the explaining, so you can 
show your part. Look, mother, hasn't he 
ruled it well? There's only one tiny mess, 
and it was the Sweep shaking the table with 
getting up to be patted." 

'* He has ruled it beautifully. But what a 
handsome L ! " 

** Oh, I forget ! Wait a minute, father, the 
explaining isn't quite finished. What do you 
think that L stands for, mother dear? " 

" For Leonard, I suppose." 

'* No, no ! What fun ! You're quite wrong. 
Guess again." 

*' Is it not the tuner's name? " 

''Oh, no! He's in the First of January — I 
told you so. And in plain printing. Father 
really couldn't illuminate three hundred and 
sixty-five poor things ! " 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 99 

" Of course he couldn't. It was silly of me 
to think so." 

" Do you give it up?" 

*' I must. I cannot guess." 

** It's the beginning of * Lcetus sorte mea' 
Ah, you know now! You ought to have 
guessed without my telling you. Do you 
remember? I remember, and I mean to re- 
member. I told Jemima that very night. I 
said, * It means Happy with my fate, and in our 
family we have to be happy with it, whatever 
sort of a one it is.' For you told me so. And 
I told the tuner, and he liked hearing about it 
very much. And then he went on tuning, and 
he smiled so when he was listening to the notes, 
I thought he looked very happy; so I asked 
him, and he said, *Yes, he was always happy 
when he was meddling with a musical instru- 
ment.' But I thought most likely all brave 
poor things are happy with their fate, even if 
they can't tune; and I asked father, and he 
said, * Yes,' and so we are putting it into my 
collection — partly for that, and partly, when 
the coat-of-arms is done, to show that the book 
belongs to me. Now, father dear, the explain- 
ing is really quite finished this time, and you 
may do all the rest of the show-off yourself! " 



lOO 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 



CHAPTER IX. 

" St. George ! a stirring life they lead, 
That have such neighbors near." 

— Alarmion, 

** O Jemima ! Jemima ! I know you are very 
kind, and I do mean not to be impatient; but 
either you're telling stories or you're talking 
nonsense, and that's a fact. How can you say 
that that blue stuff is a beautiful match, and 
will wash the exact color, and that you're sure 
I shall like it when it's made up with a cord and 
tassels, when it's not the blue I want, and when 
you know the men in hospital haven't any tas- 
sels to their dressing-gowns at all ! You're as 
bad as that horrid shopman, who made me so 
angry. If I had not been obliged to be good, 
I should have liked to hit him hard with my 
crutch, when he kept on saying he knew I 
should prefer a shawl-pattern lined with crim- 
son, if I would let him send one. Oh, here 
comes father! Now, that's right; he'll know. 
Father dear, is this blue pattern the same color 
as that?" 

*' Certainly not. But what's the matter, my 
child ? " 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. lOI 

" It's about my dressing-gown ; and I do get 
so tired about it, because people will talk non- 
sense, and won't speak the truth, and won't be- 
lieve I know what I want myself. . Now, I'll tell 
you what I want. Do you know the hospital 
lines ? " 

" In the camp ? Yes." 

" And you've seen all the invalids walking 
about in blue dressing-gowns and little red 
ties?" 

*' Yes. Charming bits of color." 

'* Hurrah ! that's just it ! Now, father dear, 
if you wanted a dressing-gown exactly like that, 
would you have one made of this ? " 

" Not if I knew it ! Crude, coarse, staring 
— please don't wave it in front of my eyes, 
unless you want to make me feel like a bull 
with a red rag before him ! " 

'* Oh, father dear, you are sensible ! (Jem- 
ima, throw this pattern away, please!) But 
you'd have felt far worse if you'd seen the shawl- 
pattern lined with crimson. Oh, I do wish I 
could have been a bull that wasn't obliged to 
be l(2tus for half a minute, to give that shopman 
just one toss ! But I believe the best way to 
do will be as O'Reilly says — get Uncle Henry 
to buy me a real one out of store, and have it 



I02 THE STOKV OF A SHORT LIFE. 

made smaller for me. And I should like it 
^out of store.'" 

From this conversation it will be seen that 
Leonard's military bias knew no change. Had 
it been less strong it could only have served to 
intensify the pain of the heartbreaking associa- 
tions which anything connected with the troops 
now naturally raised in his parents' minds. But 
it was a sore subject that fairly healed itself. 

The camp had proved a more cruel neigh- 
bor than the Master of the House had ever 
imagined in his forebodings, but it also proved 
a friend. For if the high, ambitious spirit, the 
ardent imagination, the vigorous will, which fired 
the boy's fancy for soldiers and soldier life, had 
thus led to his calamity, they found in that 
sympathy with men of hardihood and lives of 
discipline, not only an interest that never failed 
and that lifted the sufferer out of himself, but a 
constant incentive to those virtues of courage 
and patience for which he struggled with touch- 
ing conscientiousness. 

Then, without disparagement to the earnest- 
ness of his efforts to be good, it will be well be- 
lieved that his parents did their best to make 
goodness easy to him. His vigorous individual- 
ity still swayed the plans of the household, and 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. IO3 

these came to be regulated by those of the 
camp to a degree which half annoyed and half 
amused its master. 

The Asholt Gazette was delivered as regularly 
as the Times; but on special occasions, the 
arrangements for which were only known the 
night before, O'Reilly or some other Or- 
derly might be seen wending his way up the 
Elm Avenue by breakfast-time, ** with Colonel 
Jones's compliments, and the Orders of the Day 
for the young gentleman." And so many were 
the military displays at which Leonard con- 
trived to be present, that the associations of 
pleasure and alleviation with parades and ma- 
noeuvres came at last almost to blot out the 
associations of pain connected with that fatal 
field day. 

He drove about a great deal, either among 
air-cushions in the big carriage or in a sort of 
perambulator of his own, which was all too 
easily pushed by any one, and by the side of 
which the Sweep walked slowly and contentedly, 
stopping when Leonard stopped, wagging his 
tail when Leonard spoke, and keeping sym- 
pathetic step to the invalid's pace with four 
sinewy black legs, which were young enough 
and strong enough to have ranged for miles 



104 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

over the heather hills and never felt fatigue. 
A true dog friend ! 

What the Master of the House pleasantly 
called •' our military mania," seemed to have 
reached its climax during certain July manoeu- 
vres of the regiments stationed at Asholt, and 
of additional troops who lay out under canvas 
in the surrounding country. 

Into this mimic campaign Leonard threw 
himself heart and soul. His camp friends fur- 
nished him with early information of the plans 
for each day, so far as the generals of the re- 
spective forces allowed them to get wind, and 
with an energy that defied his disabilities he 
drove about after *' the armies," and then 
scrambled on his crutches to points of vantage 
where the carriage could not go. 

And the Master of the House went with 
him. 

The house itself seemed soldier-bewitched. 
Orderlies were as plentiful as rooks among the 
elm-trees. The Staff clattered in and out, and 
had luncheon at unusual hours, and strewed 
the cedar-wood hall with swords and cocked 
hats, and made low bows over Lady Jane's 
hand, and rode away among the trees. 

These were weeks of pleasure and enthusiasm 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. I05 

for Leonard, and of not less delight for the 
Sweep ; but they were followed by an illness. 

That Leonard bore his sufferings better 
helped to conceal the fact that they undoubt- 
edly increased ; and he over-fatigued himself 
and got a chill, and had to go to bed, and took 
the Sweep to bed with him. 

And it was when he could play at no ** soldier- 
game," except that of *' being in hospital," that 
he made up his mind to have a blue dressing- 
gown of regulation color and pattern, and met 
with the difficulties aforesaid in carrying out 
his whim. 



J 



1 06 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 



CHAPTER X. 

** Fills the room up of my absent child, 
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me ; 
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, 
Remembers me of all his gracious parts, 
Stuf& out his vacant garments with his form." 

— King John, Act, II L 

Long years after they were written, a bundle 
of letters lay in the drawer of a cabinet in Lady 
Jane's morning-room, carefully kept, each in its 
own envelope, and every envelope stamped 
with the postmark of Asholt Camp. 

They were in Leonard's handwriting. A 
childish hand, though good for his age, but 
round and clear as his own speech. 

After much coaxing and considering, and 
after consulting with the doctors, Leonard had 
been allowed to visit the barrack master and 
his wife. After his illness he was taken to the 
seaside, which he liked so little that he was 
bribed to stay there by the promise that, if the 
doctor would allow it, he should, on his return, 
have the desire of his heart, and be permitted 
to live for a time ** in camp," and sleep in a 
hut. 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. lO/ 

The doctor gave leave. Small quarters 
would neither mar nor mend an injured spine; 
and if he felt the lack of space and luxuries to 
which he was accustomed, he would then be 
content to return home. 

The barrack master's hut only boasted one 
spare bedchamber for visitors, and when Leon- 
ard and his dog were in it there was not much 
elbow room. A sort of cupboard was appro- 
priated for the use of Jemima, and Lady Jane 
drove constantly into camp to see her son. 
Meanwhile he proved a very good correspond- 
ent, as his letters will show for themselves. 

LETTER L 

«« Barrack Master's Hut, 

The Camp, Asholt, 

** My Dear, Dear Mother, — I hope you are quite 
well, and father also. I am very happy, and so is the 
Sweep. He tried sleeping on my bed last night, but 
there was not room, though I gave him as much as ever 
I could. So he slept on the floor. It is a camp bed, 
and folds up, if you want it to. We have nothing like 
it. It belonged to a real General. The General is dead. 
Uncle Henry bought it at his sale. You always have a 
sale if you die, and your brother-officers buy your things 
to pay your debts. Sometimes you get them very cheap. 
I mean the things. 

** The drawers fold up, too. I mean the chest of 
drawers, and so does the wash-hand-stand. It goes into 
tho comer, and takes up very little room. There 



Io8 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE, 

couldn't be a bigger one, or the door would not open — 
the one that leads into Ihe kitchen. The other door 
leads into a passage. I like having the kitchen next me. 
You can hear everything. You can hear OReilly come 
in the morning, and I call to him to open my door, and 
he say.s, ' Yes. sir,' and opens it, and lets the Sweep out 
for a run, and takes my boots. And you can hear the 
tap of the boiler running with your hot water before she 
brings it, and you can smell the bacon frying for break- 
fest. 

" Aunt Adelaide was afraid I should not like being 

woke lip so early, but I do. I waked a good many times. 

First with the gun. It's like a very short 

you. And then the 

■r would like tkeiii! 

air comes in so fresh 

nd you pull up the 

Hen off you, and go 

eep again. Mine had 

alien off, except the 

t, and the Sweep was 

5 on them. Wasn't 

.ever of him to have 

id them in the dark? 

If I can't keep them 

on, I'm going to 

have campaigning 

blankets ; they are 

sewed up like a bag, 

-i.ji^- and you get into 

" What do jou think I found on my coverlet when I 
went to bed? A real, proper, blue dressing-gown, and a 
crimson tie ! It came out of store, and Aunt Adelaide 
made it smaller herself. Wasn't it kind of her? 

" 1 have got it on now. Presently I am going to dress 
properly, and O'Reilly is going to wheel me down to the 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. IO9 

stores. It will be great fun. My cough has been pretty 
bad, but it's no worse than it was at home. 

*♦ There's a soldier come for the letters, and they are 
obliged to be ready. 

** I am, your loving and dutiful son, 

** Leonard. 

«« P. S. — Uncle Henry says his father was very old- 
fashioned, and he always liked him to put * Your dutiful 
son,' so I put it to you. 

*« All these crosses mean kisses, Jemima told me." 

LETTER II. 

*• . . . I WENT to church yesterday, though it was 
only Tuesday. I need not have gone unless I liked, but 
I liked. There is service every evening in the Iron 
Church, and Aunt Adelaide goes, and so do I, and some- 
times Uncle Henry. There are not very many people 
go, but they behave very well, what there are. You 
can't tell what the officers belong to in the afternoon, 
because they are in plain clothes ; but Aunt Adelaide 
thinks they were royal engineers, except one commis- 
sariat one, and an A. D. C, and the colonel of a regi- 
ment that marched in last week. You can't tell what the 
ladies belong to unless you know them. 

**You can always tell the men. Some were barrack 
sergeants, and some were sappers, and there were two 
gunners, and an army hospital corps, and a cavalry cor- 
poral who came all the way from the barracks, and sat 
near the door, and said very long prayers to himself at 
the end. And there were some schoolmasters, and a 
man with gray hair and no uniform, who mends the roofs 
and teaches in the Sunday school, and I forget the rest. 
Most of the choir are sappers and commissariat men, and 
the boys are soldiers' sons. The sappers and commis- 
sariat belong to our brigade. 



no THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

*♦ There is no sexton to our church. He's a church 
orderly. He has put me a kind of a back in the corner 
of one of the officers' seats, to make me comfortable in 
church, and a very high footstool. I mean to go every 
day, and as often as 1 can on Sundays, without getting 
too much tired. 

*< You can go very often on Sunday mornings if you 
want to. They begin at eight o'clock, and go on till 
luncheon. There's a fresh band, and a fresh chaplain, 
and a fresh sermon, and a fresh congregation every time. 
Those are parade services. The others are voluntary 
services, and I thought that meant for the volunteers ; 
but O'Reilly laughed, and said, * No, it only means that 
there's no occasion to go to them at all ' — he means 
unless you like. But then I do like. There's no sermon 
on week-days. Uncle Henry is very glad, and so am I. 
I think it might make my back ache. 

*» I am afraid, dear mother, that you won't be able to 
understand all I write to you from the camp ; but if you 
don't, you must ask me and I'll explain. 

**When I say our quarter s^ remember I mean our 
hut ; and when I say rations it means bread and meat, 
and I'm not quite sure if it means coals and candles as 
well. But I think I'll make you a dictionary if I can get 
a ruled book from the canteen. It would make this letter 
too much to go for a penny if I put all the words in I 
know. Cousin George tells me them when he comes in 
after mess. He told me the camp name for Iron Church 
is Tin Tabernacle ; but Aunt Adelaide says it's not, and 
I'm not to call it so, so I don't. But that's what he says. 

** I like Cousin George very much. I like his uniform. 
He is very thin, particularly round the waist. Uncle 
Henry is very stout, particularly round the waist. Last 
night George came in after mess, and two other officers 
out of his regiment came too. And then another officer 
came in. And they chaifed Uncle Henry, and Uncle 
Henry doesn't mind. And the other officer said, * Three 
times round a subaltern — once round a barrack master.' 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. Ill 

And so they got Uncle Henry's sword-belt out of his 
dressing-room, and George and his friends stood back to 
back, and held up their jackets out of the way, and the 
other officer put the belt right round them, all three, 
and told them not to laugh. And Aunt Adelaide said, 
< Oh! 'and 'You'll hurt them.' And he said, « Not a 
bit of it.' And he buckled it. So that shows. It was 
great fun. 

** I am, your loving and dutiful son, 

«* Leonard. 

** P. S. — The other officer is an Irish officer — at least, 
I think so, but I can't be quite sure, because he won't 
speak the truth. I said, * You talk rather like O'Reilly ; 
are you an Irish soldier?' And he said, ♦I'd the mis- 
fortune to be quartered for six months in the County Cork, 
and it was the ruin of my French accent.' So I said, 
* Are you a Frenchman ? ' and they all laughed, so I don't 
know. 

** P. S. No. 2. — My back has been very bad, but Aunt 
Adelaide says I have been very good. This is not meant 
for swagger, but to let you know. 

{^^ Swagger means boasting. If you're a soldier, swag- 
ger is the next worst thing to running away.) 

**P. S. No. 3. — I know another officer now. I like 
him. He is a D. A. Q. M. G. I would let you guess 
that if you could ever find it out, but you couldn't. It 
means Deputy-Assistant-Quarter-Master-General. He is 
not so grand as you would think ; a plain general is really 
grander. Uncle Henry says so, and he knows." 

LETTER HI. 

«* . . . I HAVE seen V. C. I have seen him 
twice. I have seen his cross. The first time was at the 
sports. Aunt Adelaide drove me there in the pony car- 
riage. We stopped at the enclosure. The enclosure is 



112 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

.a rope, with a man taking tickets. The sports are in- 
side ; so is the tent, with tea ; so are the ladies, in awfully 
pretty dresses, and the officers walking round them. 

** There's great fun outside, at least, I should think so. 
There's a crowd of people, and booths, and a skeleton 
man. I saw his picture. 1 should like to have seen him, 
but Aunt Adelaide didn't want to, so I tried to be latus 
without. 

** When we got to the enclosure there was a gentleman 
taking his ticket, and when he turned round he was V. C. 
Wasn't it funny? So he came back and said, *Why, 
here's my little friend ! ' And he said, * You must let 
me carry you.' And so he did, and put me among the 
ladies. But the ladies got him a good deal. He went 
and talked to lots of them, but I tried to be Icetus mX\iO\xX 
him ; and then Cousin George came, and lots of others, 
and then the V. C. came back and showed me things 
about the sports. 

* * Sports are very hard work ; they make you so hot 
and tired; but they are very nice to watch. The races 
were great fun, particularly when they fell in the water, 
and the men in sacks who hop, and the blindfolded men 
with wheelbarrows. Oh, they were so funny! They 
kept wheeling into each other, all except one, and he 
went wheeling and wheeling right away up the field, all 
by himself and all wrong! I did laugh. 

**But what I liked best were the tent-pegging men, 
and most best of all, the tug-of-war. 

**The Irish officer did tent-pegging. He has the 
dearest pony you ever saw. He is so fond of it, and it 
is so fond of him. He talks to it in Irish, and it under- 
stands him. He cut oif the Turk's head, — not a real 
Turk, a sham Turk, and not a whole one, only the head 
stuck on a pole. 

**The tug-of-war was splendid! Two sets of men 
pulling at a rope to see which is strongest. They did 
pull ! They pulled so hard, both of them, with all their 
might and main, that we thought it must be a drawn 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. II3 

battle. But at last one set pulled the other over, and 
then there was such a noise that my head ached dread- 
fully, and the Irish officer carried me into the tent and 
gave me some tea. And then we went home. 

*♦ The next time I saw V. C. was on Sunday at parade 
service. He is on the staff, and wears a cocked hat. 
He came in with the general, and the A. D. C, who 
was at church on Tuesday, and I was so glad to see him. 

♦* After church, everybody went about saying * Good 
morning,' and * How hot it was in church ! ' and V. C. 
helped me with my crutches, and showed me his cross. 
And the general came up and spoke to me, and I saw 
his medals, and he asked how you were, and I said, 

* Quite well, thank you.' And then he talked to a lady 
with some little boys dressed like sailors. She said how 
hot it was in church, and he said, * 1 thought the roof 
was coming off with that last hymn.' And she said, * My 
little boys call it the Tug-of-War hymn ; they are very 
fond of it.' And he said, * The men seem very fond of 
it.' And he turned round to an officer I didn't know, 
and said, * They ran away from you that last verse but 
one.' And the officer said, * Yes, sir, they always do; 
so I stop the organ and let them have it their own way.' 

** I asked Aunt Adelaide, * Does that officer play the 
organ?' And she said, ♦Yes, and he trains the choir. 
He's coming in to supper.' So he came. If the officers 
stay sermon on Sunday evenings, they are late for mess. 
So the chaplain stops after prayers, and anybody that 
likes to go out before sermon can. If they stay sermon, 
they go to supper with some of the married officers instead 
of dining at mess. 

**Sohe came. I liked him awfully. He plays like 
father, only I think he can play more difficult things. 

**He says, * Tug-of-War hymn' is tjie very good 
name for that hymn, because the men are so fond of it 
they all sing, and the ones at the bottom of the church 

* drag over' the choir and the organ. 

*♦ He said, • I've talked till I'm black in the face, and all 



114 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

to no purpose. It would try the patience of a saint/ So 
I said, * Are you a saint? ^ And he laughed and said, 
•No, Tm afraid not; Vm only a kapellmeister.' So I 
call him * Kapellmeister.' I do like him. 

•♦•I do like the Tug-of-War hymn. It begins, * The 
Son of God goes forth to war.' That's the one. But 
we have it to a tune of our own, on Saints' Days. The 
verse the men lug with is, * A noble army, men and boys.' 
I think they like it, because it's about the army ; and so 
do I. 

«* I am, your loving and dutiful son, 

** Leonard. 

*♦ P. S. — I call the ones with cocked hats and feathers, 
•cockatoos.' There was another cockatoo who walked 
away with the general. Not very big. About the big- 
ness of the stuffed general in the pawnbroker's window ; 
and I do think he had quite as many medals. I wanted 
to see them. I wish I had. He looked at me. He had 
a very gentle face; but I was afraid of it. Was I a 
coward ? 

••You remember what these crosses are, don't you? 
I told you." 



LETTER IV. 

** This is a very short letter. Its only to ask you to 
send my Book of Poor Things by the orderly who takes 
this, unless you are quite sure you are coming to see me 
to-day. 

••A lot of officers are collecting for me, and there's 
one in the Engineers can print very well, so he'll put them 
in. 

•*A colonel with only one arm dined here yesterday. 
You can't think how well he manages, using first his 
knife and then his fork, and talking so politely all the 
time. He has all kinds of dodges, so as not to give 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. II5 

trouble and do everything for himself. I mean to put 
him in. 

** I wrote to Cousin Alan, and asked him to collect for 
me. I like writing letters, and I do like getting them. 
Uncle Henry says he hates a lot of posts in the day. I 
hate posts when there's nothing for me. I like all the 
rest. 

** Cousin Alan wrote back by return. He says he can 
only think of the old chap, whose legs were cut off in 
battle : 

* And when his legs were smitten oflf. 
He fought upon his stumps ! ' 

It was very brave, if it's true. Do you think it is? 
He did not tell me his name. 

** Your loving and dutiful son, 

** Leonard. 
** P. S. — I am lc€tus sorte mea^ and so is the Sweep.' 



LETTER V. 

**This letter is not about a poor thing. It's about a 
saint — a soldier saint — which I and the chaplain think 
nearly the best kind. His name was Martin : he got to be 
a bishop in the end, but when he first enlisted he was 
only a catechumen. Do you know what a catechumen 
is, dear mother? Perhaps if you're not quite so high- 
church as the engineer I told you of, who prints so 
beautifully, you may not know. It means when youVe 
been born a heathen, and are going to be a Christian, 
only youVe not yet been baptized. The engineer has 
given me a picture of him, St. Martin I mean, and now 
he has printed underneath it, in beautiful thick black 
letters that you can hardly read if you don't know what 
they are, and the very particular words in red, * Martin 
— yet but a catechumen ! ' He can illuminate, too, 
though not quite so well as father: he is very high- 



Il6 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

church, and Fm high-church too, and so is our chaplain, 
but he is broad as well. The engineer thinks he^s 
rather too broad, but Uncle Henry and Aunt Adelaide 
think he's quite perfect, and so do I, and so does every- 
body else. He comes in sometimes, but not very often 
because he^s so busy. He came the other night because 
I wanted to confess. What I wanted to confess was that 
I had laughed in church. He is a very big man, and he 
has a very big surplice, with a great lot of gathers behind, 
which makes my engineer very angry, because it's the 
wrong shape ; and he preaches splendidly, the chaplain I 
mean, straight out of his head, and when all the soldiers 
are listening he swings his arms about, and the surplice 
gets in his way, and he catches hold of it, and oh ! 
mother dear, I must tell you what it reminded me of. 
When I was very little, and father used to tie a knot in his 
big pocket-handkerchief and put his first finger into it to 
make a head that nodded, and wind the rest round his 
hand, and stick out his thumb and another finger for 
arms, and to the * Yea-verily-man' to amuse you and 
me. It was last Sunday, and a most splendid sermon, 
but his stole got round under his ear, and his sleeves did 
look just like the Yea-verily-man, and 1 tried not to look, 
and then I caught the Irish ofl[icer's eye and he twinkled, 
and then I laughed, because I remembered his telling 
Aunt Adelaide, * That's the grandest old Padr^ that ever 
got up into a pulpit, but did ye ever see a man get so 
mixed up with his clothes?' I was very sorry when I 
laughed, so I settled I would confess, for my engineer 
thinks you ought always to confess, so when our chaplain 
came in after dinner on Monday, I confessed, but he 
only laughed, till he broke down J^unt Adelaide's black 
and gold chair. He is too big for it, really. Aunt 
Adelaide never lets Uncle Henry sit on it. So he was 
very sorry, and Aunt Adelaide begged him not to mind, 
and then in came my engineer in war-paint (if you look 
out war-paint in the canteen book I gave you, you'll see 
what it means). He was in war-paint because he was 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 11/ 

orderly officer for the evening, and he'd got his sword 
under one arm, and the picture under the other, and his 
short cloak on to keep it dry, because it was raining. 
He made the frame himself; he can make Oxford frames 
quite well, and he's going to teach me how to. Then I 
said, * Who is it?' so he told me, and now I'm going to 
tell you, in case you don't know. Well, St. Martin was 
born in Hungary, in the year 316. His father and 
mother were heathens, but when he was about my age 
he made up his mind he would be a Christian. His 
father and mother were so afraid of his turning into a 
monk, that as soon as he was old enough they enlisted 
him in the army, hoping that would cure him of wanting 
to be a Christian, but it didn't — Martin wanted to be a 
Christian just as much as ever; still he got interested 
with his work and his comrades, and he dawdled on only 
a catechumen, and didn't make full profession and get 
baptized. One winter his corps was quartered at Amiens, 
and on a very bitter night, near the gates, he saw a half- 
naked beggar shivering with the cold. (I asked my 
engineer, * Was he orderly officer for the evening?' but 
he said, * More likely on patrol duty, with some of his 
comrades.' However, he says he won't be sure, for 
Martin was tribune, which is very nearly a colonel, two 
years afterwards, he knows.) When Martin saw the 
beggar at the gate, he pulled out his big military cloak, 
and drew his sword, and cut it in half, and wrapped half 
of it round the poor beggar to keep him warm. I know 
you'll think him very kind ; but wait a bit, that's not all. 
Next night when Martin the soldier was asleep he had a 
vision. Did you ever have a vision? I wish I could! 
This was Martin's vision. He saw Christ our Lord in 
heaven, sitting among the shining hosts, and wearing 
over one shoulder half a military cloak, and as Martin 
saw him he heard him say, * Behold the mantle given 
to Me by Martin — yet but a catechumen ! ' After that 
vision he didn't wait any longer; he was baptized at 
once. 



Il8 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

«* Mother dear, IVe told you this quite truthfully, but 
I can't tell it you so splendidly as my engineer did, stand- 
ing with his back to the fire and holding out his cape, 
and drawing his sword, to show me how Martin divided 
his cloak with the beggar. Aunt Adelaide isn't afraid of 
swords, she is too used to them, but she says she thinks 
soldiers do things in huts they would never think of doing 
in big rooms, just to show how neatly they can manage, 
without hurting anything. The chaplain broke the chair, 
but then he isn't exactly a soldier, and the D. A. Q. M. G. 
that I told you of comes in sometimes and says, * I beg 
your pardon, Mrs. Jones, but I must,' — and puts both 
his hands on the end of the sofa, and lifts his body till 
he gets his legs sticking straight out. They are very 
long legs, and he and the sofa go nearly across the room, 
but he never kicks anything, it's a kind of athletics; 
and there's another officer who comes in at one door and 
Catherine-wheel's right across to the farthest corner, and 
he is over six foot, too, but they never break anything. 
We do laugh. 

«*I wish you could have seen my engineer doing St. 
Martin. He had to go directly afterwards, and then the 
chaplain came and stood in front of me, on the hearth- 
rug, in the firelight, just where my engineer had been 
standing, and he took up the picture, and looked at it. 
So I said, * Do you know about St. Martin.'* ' and he said 
he did, and he said, * One of the greatest of those many 
soldiers of the cross who have also fought under earthly 
banners.' Then he put down the picture, and got hold 
of his elbow with his hand, as if he was holding his sur- 
plice out of the way, and said, * Great, as well as good, 
for this reason ; he was one of those rare souls to whom 
the counsels of God are clear, not to the utmost of the 
times in which he lived, but in advance of those times. 
Such men are not always popular, nor even largely suc- 
cessful in their day, but the light they hold lightens more 
generations of this naughty world, than the pious tapers 
of commoner men. You know that Martin the catechu- 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. II9 

men became Martin the saint — do you know that Mar- 
tin the soldier became Martin the bishop ? — and that in 
an age of credulity and fanaticism, that man of God dis- 
credited some relics very popular with the pious in his 
diocese, and proved and exposed them to be those of an 
executed robber. Later in life it is recorded of Martin, 
bishop of Tours, that he lifted his voice in protest against 
persecutions for religion, and the punishment of heretics. 
In the nineteenth century we are little able to judge how 
great must have been the faith of that man in the God of 
truth and of love.' It was like a little sermon, and I 
think this is exactly how he said it, for I got Aunt Ade- 
laide to write it out for me this morning, and she remem- 
bers sermons awfully well. IVe been looking St. Martin 
out in the calendar; his day is the loth of November. 
He is not a collect, epistle, and gospel saint, only one of 
the black letter ones ; but the loth of November is going 
to be on a Sunday this year, and I am so glad, for I've 
asked our chaplain if we may have the Tug-of-War hymn 
for St. Martin — and he has given leave. 

** It's a long way off; I wish it came sooner. So now, 
mother dear, you have time to make your arrangements 
as you like, but you see that whatever happens, /must be 
in camp on St. Martin's Day. 

* * Your loving and dutiful son, 

«« Leonard," 



I20 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 



CHAPTER XI. 

"I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I 
have kept the faith. Henceforth — ! " — i Tim, iv. 7. 

It was Sunday. Sunday, the tenth of No- 
vember — St. Martin's Day. 

Though it was in November; a summer day. 
A day of that Little Summer which alternately 
claims St. Luke and St. Martin as its patrons, 
and is apt to shine its brightest when it can 
claim both — on the feast of All Saints. 

Sunday in camp. With curious points of 
likeness and unlikeness to English Sundays else- 
where. Like in that general aspect of tidiness 
and quiet, of gravity and pause, which betrays 
that a hard-working and very practical people 
have thought good to keep much of the Sab- 
bath with its Sunday. Like, too, in the little 
groups of children, gay in Sunday best, and 
grave with Sunday books, trotting to Sunday 
school. 

Unlike, in that to see all the men about the 
place washed and shaved is not, among soldiers, 
peculiar to Sunday. Unlike, also, in a more 
festal feeling produced by the gay gatherings of 
men and officers on church parade (far distant 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 121 

be the day when parade services shall be abol- 
ished !), and by the exhilarating sounds of the 
bands with which each regiment marched from 
its parade-ground to the church. 

Here and there small detachments might be 
met making their way to the Roman Catholic 
church in camp, or to places of worship of vari- 
ous denominations in the neighboring town; 
and on Blind Baby's parade (where he was pre- 
maturely crushing his Sunday frock with his 
drum-basket in ecstatic sympathy with the 
bands), a corporal of exceptional views was 
parading himself and two privates of the same 
denomination, before marching the three of them 
to their own peculiar prayer-meeting. 

The Brigade for the Iron Church paraded 
early (the sunshine and sweet air seemed to 
promote alacrity). And after the men were 
seated their officers still lingered outside, chat- 
ting with the ladies and the Staff, as these assem- 
bled by degrees, and sunning themselves in the 
genial warmth of St. Martin's Little Summer. 

The V. C. was talking with the little boys in 
sailor suits and their mother, when the officer 
who played the organ came towards them. 

" Good morning, Kapellmeister ! " said two or 
three voices. 



122 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

Nicknames were common in the camp, and 
this one had been rapidly adopted. 

** Ye look cloudy this fine morning, Kapell- 
meister ! " cried the Irish officer. *' Got the 
toothache ? " 

The Kapellmeister shook his head, and forced 
a smile which rather intensified than diminished 
the gloom of a countenance which did not 
naturally lend itself to lines of levity. Was he 
not a Scotchman and also a musician ? His lips 
smiled in answer to the chaff, but his sombre 
eyes were fixed on the V. C. They had -^ as 
some eyes have — an odd, summoning power, 
and the V. C. went to meet him. 

When he said, " I was in there this morning,*' 
the V. C.'s eyes followed the Kapellmeister's to 
the barrack master's hut, and his own face fell. 

*' He wants the Tug-of-War hymn," said the 
Kapellmeister. 

** He's not coming to church? " 

'* Oh, no ; but he's set his heart on hearing 
the Tug-of-War hymn through his bedroom 
window ; and it seems the chaplain has prom- 
ised we shall have it to-day. It's a most 
amazing thing," added the Kapellmeister, shoot- 
ing out one arm with a gesture, common to him 
when oppressed by an idea, — **it's a most 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 1 23 

amazing thing ! For I think, if I were in my 
grave, that hymn — as these men bolt with it — 
might make me turn in my place of rest ; but 
it's the last thing I should care to hear if I were 
ill in bed ! However, he wants it, poor lad, and 
he asked me to ask you if you would turn out- 
side when it begins, and sing so that he can 
hear your voice and the words." 

** Oh, he can never hear me over there ! *' 

" He can hear you fast enough ! It's quite 
close. He begged me to ask you, and I was to 
say it's his last Sunday." 

There was a pause. The V. C. looked at the 
little '' officers' door," which was close to his 
usual seat, which always stood open in summer 
weather, and half in half out of which men 
often stood in the crush of a parade service. 
There was no difficulty in the matter except 
his own intense dislike to anything approaching 
to display. Also he had become more attached 
than he could have believed possible to the 
gallant-hearted child whose worship of him had 
been flattery as delicate as it was sincere. It 
was no small pain to know that the boy lay 
dying — a pain he would have preferred to bear 
in silence. 

" Is he very much set upon it? " 



124 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

" Absolutely.'' 

** Is she — is Lady Jane there? " 

** All of them. He can*t last the day out." 

** When will it be sung — that hymn, I mean ? ' 

*' I've put it on after the third Collect." 

** All right." 

The V. C. took up his sword and went to 

his seat, and the Kapellmeister took up his and 

went to the organ. 

In the barrack master's hut my hero lay 
dying. His mind was now absolutely clear, 
but during the night it had wandered — wan- 
dered in a delirium that was perhaps some 
solace of his sufferings, for he had believed 
himself to be a soldier on active service, bear- 
ing the brunt of battle and the pain of wounds ; 
and when fever consumed him, he thought it 
was the heat of India that parched his throat 
and scorched his skin ; and called again and 
again in noble raving to imaginary comrades to 
keep up heart and press forward. 

About four o'clock he sank into stupor, and 
the doctor forced Lady Jane to go and lie 
down, and the Colonel took his wife away to 
rest also. 

At gun fire Leonard opened his eyes. For 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 125 

some minutes he gazed straight ahead of him, 
and the Master of the House, who sat by his 
bedside, could not be sure whether he were still 
delirious or no; but when their eyes met he 
saw that Leonard's senses had returned to him, 
and kissed the wan little hand that was feeling 
about for the Sweep's head in silence that he 
almost feared to break. 

Leonard broke in by saying, ** When did you 
bring Uncle Rupert to camp, father dear? " 

*' Uncle Rupert is at home, my darling ; and 
you are in Uncle Henry's hut." 

'' I know I am ; and so is Uncle Rupert. 
He is at the end of the room there. Can't you 
see him? " 

" No, Len ; I only see the wall, with your 
text on it that poor old father did for you." 

" My * Goodly heritage,' you mean ? I can't 
see that now. Uncle Rupert is in front of it. 
I thought you put him there. Only he's out 
of his frame, and — it's very odd ! " 

" What's odd, my darling? " 

" Some one has wiped away all the tears 
from his eyes." 

*' Hymn two hundred and sixty-three : * Fight 
the good fight of faith.' " 



126 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

The third Collect was just ended, and a pro- 
longed and somewhat irregular Amen was dying 
away among the choir, who were beginning to 
feel for their hymn-books. 

The lack of precision, the ** dropping shots " 
style in which that Amen was delivered, would 
have been more exasperating to the Kapell- 
meister, if his own attention had not been for 
the moment diverted by anxiety to know if the 
V. C. remembered that the time had come. 

As the chaplain gave out the hymn, the 
Kapellmeister gave one glance of an eye, as 
searching as it was sombre, round the corner of 
that odd little curtain which it is the custom to 
hang behind an organist; and this sufficing to 
tell him that the V. C. had not forgotten, he 
drew out certain very vocal stops, and bending 
himself to manual and pedal, gave forth the 
popular melody of the *' Tug-of-War" hymn 
with a precision indicative of a resolution to 
have it sung in strict time, or know the reason 
why. 

And as nine hundred and odd men rose to 
their feet with some clatter of heavy boots and 
accoutrements the V. C. turned quietly out of 
the crowded church, and stood outside upon 
the steps, bareheaded in the sunshine of St. 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 1 2/ 

Martin's Little Summer, and with the tiniest of 
hymn-books between his fingers and thumb. 

Circumstances had made a soldier of the 
V. C, but by nature he was a student. When 
he brought the little hymn-book to his eyes to 
get a mental grasp of the hymn before he began 
to sing it, he committed the first four lines to 
an intelligence sufficiently trained to hold them 
in remembrance for the brief time that it would 
take to sing them. Involuntarily his active 
brain did more, aad was crossed by a critical 
sense of the crude, barbaric taste of childhood, 
and a wonder what consolation the suffering 
boy could find in these gaudy lines : — 

* * The Son of God goes forth to war, 
A kingly crown to gain ; 
His blood-red banner streams afar ; 
Who follows in His train?" 

But when he brought the little hymn-book to 
his eyes to take in the next four lines, they 
started him with the revulsion of a sudden sym- 
pathy ; and lifting his face towards the barrack 
master's hut, he sang — as he rarely sang in 
drawing-rooms, even words the most felicitous 
to melodies the most sweet — sang not only to 
the delight of dying ears, but so that the 



128 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

Kapellmeister himself heard him, and smiled as 
he heard: — 

** Who best can drink His cup of woe 
Triumphant over pain, 
Who patient bears His ^ross below, 
He follows in His train.*' 



•:> 



On each side of Leonard's bed, like guardian 
angels, knelt his father and mother. At his 
feet lay the Sweep, who now and then lifted a 
long, melancholy nose and anxious eyes. 

At the foot of the bed stood the barrack 
master. He had taken up this position at the 
request of the Master of the House, who had 
avoided any further allusion to Leonard's fancy 
that their Naseby ancestor had come to Asholt 
Camp, but had begged his big brother-in-law to 
stand there and blot out Uncle Rupert's ghost 
with his substantial body. 

But whether Leonard perceived the ruscy for- 
got Uncle Rupert, or saw him all the same, by 
no word or sign did he ever betray. 

Near the window sat Aunt Adelaide, with her 
Prayer-book, following the service in her own 
orderly and pious fashion, sometimes saying a 
prayer aloud at Leonard's bidding, and anon 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 1 29 

replying to his oft-repeated inquiry: '* Is it the 
third Collect yet, Aunty dear?" 

She had turned her head, more quickly than 
usual, to speak, when, clear and strenuous on 
vocal stops, came the melody of the **Tug-of- 
War" hymn. 

** There ! There it is ! Oh, good Kapell- 
meister! Mother dear, please go to the win- 
dow and see if V. C. is there, and wave your 
hand to him. Father dear, lift me up a little, 
please. Ah, now I hear him ! Good V. C. ! 
I don't believe you'll sing better than that when 
you're promoted to be an angel. Are the men 
singing pretty loud? May I have a little of 
that stuff to keep me from coughing, mother 
dear? You know I am not impatient; but I do 
hope, please God, I sha'n't die till I've just 
heard them tug that verse once more ! " 

^r ^r ^^* ^r ^T* ^^* ^^^ 

The sight of Lady Jane had distracted the 
V. C.'s thoughts from the hymn. He was sing- 
ing mechanically, when he became conscious of 
some increasing pressure and irregularity in the 
time. Then he remembered what it was. The 
soldiers were beginning to tug. 

In a moment more the organ stopped, and the 
V. C. found himself, with over three hundred 



I30 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

men at his back, singing without accompani- 
ment, and in unison, — 

♦* A noble army — men and boys, 
The matron and the maid, 
Around their Saviour's throne rejoice. 
In robes of white arrayed." 

The Kapellmeister conceded that verse to the 
shouts of the congregation ; but he invariably 
reclaimed control over the last. 

Even now, as the men paused to take breath 
after their *'tug," the organ spoke again, softly, 
but seraphically, and clearer and sweeter above 
the voices behind him rose the voice of the V. 
C, singing to his little friend, — 

•* They climbed the steep ascent of Heaven 
Through peril, toil, and pain — " 

The men sang on ; but the V. C. stopped, as if 
he had been shot. For a man's hand had come 
to the barrack master's window and pulled the 
white blind down. 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. I3I 



CHAPTER XII. 

" He that hath found some fledged-bird's nest may know 

At first sight, if the bird be flown; 

But what fair dell or grove he sings in now. 

That is to him unknown." 

— Henry P'aughan. 

True to its character as an emblem of human 
life, the camp stands on, with all its little man- 
ners and customs, whilst the men who garrison 
it pass rapidly away. 

Strange as the vicissitudes of a whole genera- 
tion elsewhere, are the changes and chances 
that a few years bring to those who were sta- 
tioned there together. 

To what unforeseen celebrity (or to a drop- 
ping out of one's life and even hearsay that 
once seemed quite as little likely) do one's old 
neighbors sometimes come ! They seem to 
pass in a few drill seasons as other men pass by 
lifetimes. Some to foolishness and forgetful- 
ness, and some to fame. This old acquaintance 
to unexpected glory ; that dear friend — alas ! — 
to the grave. And some — God speed them ! — 
to the world's end and back, following the drum 
till it leads them home again, with familiar faces 



132 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

little changed — with boys and girls, perchance, 
very greatly changed — and with hearts not 
changed at all. Can the last parting do much 
to hurt such friendships between good souls, 
who have so long learned to say farewell; to 
love in absence, to trust through silence, and to 
have faith in reunion? 

The barrack master's appointment was an un- 
usually permanent one ; and he and his wife lived 
on in Asholt Camp, and saw regiments come and 
go, as O'Reilly had prophesied, and threw out 
additional rooms and bow-windows, and took in 
more garden, and kept a cow on a bit of govern- 
ment grass beyond the stores, and — with the 
man who did the roofs, the church orderly, and 
one or two other public characters — came to 
be reckoned among the oldest inhabitants. 

George went away pretty soon with his regi- 
ment. He was a good, straightforward young 
fellow, with a dogged devotion to duty, and a 
certain provincialism of intellect, and general 
John Bullishness, which he inherited from his 
father, who had inherited it from his country 
forefathers. He inherited equally a certain 
romantic, instinctive, and immovable high- 
mindedness, not invariably characteristic of 
much more brilliant men. 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 1 33 

He had been very fond of his little cousin, 
and Leonard's death was a natural grief to him. 
The funeral tried his fortitude, and his detesta- 
tion of ** scenes," to the very uttermost. 

Like most young men who had the honor to 
' know her, George's devotion to his beautiful 
and gracious aunt. Lady Jane, had had in it 
something of the nature of worship ; but now 
he was almost glad he was going away, and not 
likely to see her face for a long time, because it 
made him feel miserable to see her, and he 
objected to feeling miserable both on principle 
and in practice. His peace of mind was as- 
! sailed, however, from a wholly unexpected 

I 

quarter, and one which pursued him even more 
abroad than at home. 

The barrack master's son had been shocked 
by his cousin's death ; but the shock was really 
and truly greater when he discovered, by chance 
gossip, and certain society indications, that the 
calamity which left Lady Jane childless had 
made him his uncle's presumptive heir. The 
almost physical disgust which the discovery 
that he had thus acquired some little social 
prestige produced in this subaltern of a march- 
ing regiment must be hard to comprehend by 
persons of more imagination and less sturdy 



134 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

independence, or by scholars in the science of 
success. But man differs widely from man, and 
it is true. 

He had been nearly two years in Canada 



when " the English mail " caused him to fling 
his fur cap into the air with such demonstra- 
tions of deliglit as greatly aroused the curiosity 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 1 35 

of his comrades, and, as he bolted to his 
quarters without further explanation than 
** Good news from home ! " a rumor was for 
some time current that *' Jones had come into 
his fortune." 

Safe in his own quarters, he once more ap- 
plied himself to his mother's letter, and picked 
up the thread of a passage which ran thus: — 

** Your dear father gets very impatient, and I long to 
be back in my hut again and see after my flowers, which 
I can trust to no one since O'Reilly took his discharge. 
The little conservatory is like a new toy to me, but it is 
very tiny, and your dear father is worse than no use in 
it, as he says himself. However, I can't leave Lady 
Jane till she is quite strong. The baby is a noble little 
fellow and really beautiful — which I know you won't be- 
lieve, but that's because you know nothing about babies : 
not so beautiful as Leonard, of course — that could never 
be — but a fine, healthy, handsome boy, with eyes that 
do remind one of his darling brother. I know, dear 
George, how greatly you always did admire and appre- 
ciate your aunt. Not one bit too much, my son. She is 
the noblest woman I have ever known. We have had a 
very happy time together, and I pray it may please God 
to spare this child to be the comfort to her that you are 
and have been to 

* * Your loving * * Mother . " 

This was the good news from home that had 
sent the young subaltern's fur cap into the air, 
and that now sent him to his desk; the last 
place where, as a rule, he enjoyed himself. 



136 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

Poor scribe as he was, however, he wrote two 
letters then and there ; one to his mother, and 
one of impetuous congratulations to his uncle, 
full of messages to Lady jane. 

The Master of the House read the letter 
more than once. It pleased him. 

In his own way he was quite as unworldly as 
his nephew, but it was chiefly from a philo- 
sophic contempt for many things that worldly 
folk struggle for, and a connoisseurship in 
sources of pleasure not purchasable except by 
the mentally endowed, and not even valuable 
to George, as he knew. And he was a man of 
the world, and a somewhat cynical student of 
character. 

After the third reading he took it, smiling, to 
Lady Jane's morning-room, where she was sitting, 
looking rather pale, with her fine hair '' coming 
down " over a tea-gown of strange tints of her 
husband's choosing, and with the new baby 
lying in her lap. 

He shut the door noiselessly, took a footstool 
to her feet, and kissed her hand. 

**You look like a Romney, Jane, — an un- 
finished Romney, for you are too white. If 
you've got a headache, you sha'n't hear this 
letter which I know you'd like to hear." 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 1 37 

" I see that I should. Canada postmarks. 
It*s George." 

**Yes; it's George. He's uproariously de- 
lighted at the advent of this little chap." 

" Oh, I knew he'd be that. Let me hear 
what he says." 

The Master of the House read the letter. 
Lady Jane's eyes filled with tears at the tender 
references to Leonard, but she smiled through 
them. 

" He's a dear, good fellow." 

" He is a dear, good fellow. . It's a most 
borne intellect, but excellence itself And I'm 
bound to say," added the Master of the House, 
driving his hands through the jungle of his hair, 
'' that there is a certain excellence about a 
soldier when he is a good fellow that seems to 
be a thing per se." 

After meditating on this matter for some 
moments, he sprang up and vigorously rang 
the bell. 

'*Jane, you're terribly white; you can bear 
nothing. Nurse is to take that brat at once, 
and I'm going to carry you into the garden." 

Always much given to the collection and 
care of precious things, and apt also to change 
his fads and to pursue each with partiality for 



138 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

the moment^ the Master of the House had, for 
some time past, been devoting all his thoughts 
and his theories to the preservation of a pos- 
session not less valuable than the paragon of 
Chippendale chairs, and much more destructi- 
ble — he was taking care of his good wife. 

Many family treasures are lost for lack of a 
little timely care and cherishing, and there are 
living " examples *' as rare as most bric-a-brac, 
and quite as perishable. Lady Jane was one 
of them, and after Leonard's death, with no 
motive for keeping up, she sank into a condi- 
tion of weakness so profound that it became 
evident that, unless her failing forces were 
fostered, she would not long be parted from 
her son. 

Her husband had taken up his poem again, 
to divert his mind from his own grief; but he 
left it behind, and took Lady Jane abroad. 

Once roused, he brought to the task of coax- 
ing her back to life an intelligence that gener- 
ally insured the success of his aims, and he 
succeeded now. Lady Jane got well; out of 
sheer gratitude, she said. 

Leonard's military friends do not forget him. 
They are accustomed to remember the absent. 

With the death of his little friend the V. C. 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 1 39 

quits these pages. He will be found in the 
pages of history. 

The Kapellmeister is a fine organist, and a 
few musical members of the congregation, of all 
ranks, have a knack of lingering after Evensong 
at the Iron Church to hear him ** play away the 
people." But on the Sunday after Leonard's 
death the congregation rose and remained en 
masse as the Dead March from Saul spoke in 
solemn and familiar tones the requiem of a 
hero's soul. 

Blind Baby's father was a Presbyterian, and 
disapproved of organs, but he was a fond parent, 
and his blind child had heard tell that the officer 
who played the organ so grandly was to play 
the Dead March on the Sabbath evening for the 
little gentleman that died on the Sabbath pre- 
vious, and he was wild to go and hear it. Then 
the service would be past, and the Kapellmeis- 
ter was a fellow-Scot, and the house of mourn- 
ing has a powerful attraction for that serious 
race, and for one reason or another Corporal 
Macdonald yielded to the point of saying, 
" Aweel, if you're a gude bairn, I'll tak ye to 
the kirk door, and ye may lay your lug at the 
chink, and hear what ye can." 

But when they got there the door was open, 



I40 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

and Blind Baby pushed his way through the 
crowd, as if the organ had drawn him with a 
rope, straight to the Kapellmeister's side. 

It was the beginning of a friendship much to 
Blind Baby's advantage, which did not end when 
the child had been sent to a blind school, and 
then to a college where he learnt to be a tuner, 
and "earned his own living." 

Poor Jemima fretted so bitterly for the loss of 
the child she had nursed with such devotion, 
that there was possibly some truth in O'Reilly's 
rather complicated assertion that he married 
her because he could not bear to see her cry. 

He took his discharge, and was installed by 
the Master of the House as lodge-keeper at the 
gates through which he had so often passed as 
*' a tidy one." 

Freed from military restraints, he became a 
very untidy one indeed, and grew hair in such 
reckless abundance that he came to look like an 
curang-outang with an unusally restrained figure 
and exceptionally upright carriage. 

He was the best of husbands every day in 
the year but the 1 7th of March ; and Jemima 
enjoyed herself very much as she boasted to the 
wives of less handy civilians that " her man 
was as good as a woman about the house, any 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 141 

day/* (Any day, that is, except the 17th of 
March.) 

With window-plants cunningly and ornamen- 
tally enclosed by a miniature paling and gate, 
as if the window-sill were a hut garden ; with 
colored tissue-paper flycatchers made on the 
principle of barrack-room Christmas decora- 
tions; with shelves, brackets, Oxford frames, 
and other efforts of the decorative joinery of 
O'Reilly's evenings; with a large, hard sofa, 
chairs, elbow-chairs, and antimacassars; and 
with a round table in the middle, — the Lodge 
parlor is not a room to live in, but it is almost 
bewildering to peep into, and curiously like the 
shrine of some departed saint, so highly framed 
are the photographs of Leonard's lovely face, 
and so numerous are his relics. 

The fate of Leonard's dog may not readily 
be guessed. 

The gentle reader would not deem it un- 
natural were I to chronicle that he died of a 
broken heart. Failing this excess of sensibility, 
it seems obvious that he should have attached 
himself immovably to Lady Jane, and have lived 
at ease and died full of dignity in his little mas- 
ter's ancestral halls. He did go back there for 
a short time, but the day after the funeral he 



<<-"■ 



142 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

disappeared. When word came to the house- 
hold that he was missing and had not been seen 
since he was let out in the morning, the butler 
put on his hat and hurried off with a beating 
heart to Leonard's grave. 

But the Sweep was not there, dead or alive. 
He was at that moment going at a sling trot 
along the dusty road that led into the camp. 
Timid persons, imperfectly acquainted with dogs, 
avoided him ; he went so very straight, it looked 
like hydrophobia ; men who knew better, and 
saw that he was only *' on urgent private affairs," 
chaffed him as they passed, and some with little 
canes and horseplay waylaid and tried to inter- 
cept him. But he was a big dog, and made 
himself respected, and pursued his way. 

His way was to the barrack master's hut. 

The first room he went into was that in which 
Leonard died. He did not stay there three 
minutes. Then he went to Leonard's own room, 
the little one next to the kitchen, and this he 
examined exhaustively, crawling under the 
bed, snuffing at both doors, and lifting his long 
nose against hope to investigate impossible 
places, such as the top of the military chest of 
drawers. Then he got on to the late General's 
camp bed and went to sleep. 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 1 43 

He was awakened by the smell of the bacon 
frying for breakfast, and he had breakfast with 
the family. After this he went out, and was 
seen by different persons at various places in 
the camp, the general parade, the stores, and 
the Iron Church, still searching. 

He was invited to dinner in at least twenty 
different barrack-rooms, but he rejected all 
overtures till he met O'Reilly, when he turned 
round and went back to dine with him and his 
comrades. 

He searched Leonard's room once more, and 
not finding him, he refused to make his home 
with the barrack master ; possibly because he 
could not make up his mind to have a home at 
all till he could have one with Leonard. 

Half a dozen of Leonard's officer friends 
would willingly have adopted him, but he 
would not own another master. Then military 
dogs are apt to attach themselves exclusively 
either to commissioned or to non-commissioned 
soldiers, and the Sweep cast in his lot with the 
men, and slept on old coats in corners of 
barrack-rooms, and bided his time. Dogs' 
masters do get called away suddenly and come 
back again. The Sweep had his hopes, and 
did not commit himself. 



144 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

Even if, at length, he realized that Leonard 
had passed beyond this life's outposts, it roused 
in him no instincts to return to the Hall. With 
a somewhat sublime contempt for those shreds 
of poor mortality laid to rest in the family 
vault, he elected to live where his little master 
had been happiest — in Asholt Camp. 

Now and then he became excited. It was 
when a fresh regiment marched in. On these 
occasions he invariably made so exhaustive an 
examination of the regiment and its baggage, 
as led to his being more or less forcibly adopted 
by half a dozen good-natured soldiers who had 
had to leave their previous pets behind them. 
But when he found that Leonard had not re- 
turned with that detachment, he shook off 
everybody and went back to O'Reilly. 

When O'Reilly married he took the Sweep to 
the Lodge, who thereupon instituted a search 
about the house and grounds ; but it was evi- ,/ 
dent that he had not expected any good results, / 
and when he did not find Leonard he went 
away quickly down the old Elm Avenue. As 
he passed along the dusty road that led to 
camp for the last time, he looked back now and 
again with sad eyes to see if O'Reilly was not 
coming too. Then he returned to the barrack- 



THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE, 145 

room, where he was greeted with uproarious 
welcome, and eventually presented with a new 
collar by subscription. And so, rising with 
gun fire and resting with " lights out," he lived 
and died a soldier's dog. 

The new heir thrives at the Hall. He has 
brothers and sisters to complete the natural 
happiness of his home, he has good health, 



good parents, and is having a good education. 
He will have a goodly heritage. He is develop- 
ing nearly as vigorous a fancy for soldiers as 
Leonard had, and drills his brothers and sisters 
with the help of O'Reilly. If he wishes to 
make arms his profession he will not be 
thwarted, for the Master of the House has 



146 THE STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. 

decided that it is in many respects a desirable 
and wholesome career for an eldest son. Lady 
Jane may yet have to buckle on a hero's sword. 
Brought up by such a mother in the fear of 
God, he ought to be good, he may live to be 
great, it's odds if he cannot be happy. But 
never, not in the "one crowded hour of 
glorious " victory, not in years of the softest 
comforts of a peaceful home, by no virtues and 
in no success shall he bear more fitly than his 
crippled brother bore the ancient motto of their 
house : — 

''Xietu0 Sorte Aca." 



COSY CORNER SERIES. 



A Series of Short Original Stories, or Reprints of Well-known 
Favorites, Sketches of Travel, Essays and Poems. 



The books of this series answer a long-felt need for a half- 
hour's entertaining reading, while in the railway car, during 
the summer, outing in the country or at the seaside, or by the 
evening lamp at home. They are particularly adapted for 
reading aloud, containing nothing but the best from a literary 
standpoint, and arc unexceptionable in every way. They are 
printed from good type, illustrated with original sketches by 
gdod artists, and neatly bound in cloth. The size is a i6m>, 
not too large for the pocket. 



PRICE FIFTY CENTS EACH. 



BIG BROTHER. By Annie Fellows-Johnston. 

CHRISTMAS AT THOMPSON HALL. By Anthony 
Trollope. 

STORY OF A SHORT LIFE. By Juliana Horatia 

EWING. 

A PROVENCE ROSE. By Louisa de la Rame 

(OUIDA). 

RAB AND HIS FRIENDS. By Dr. John Brown. 



Other volumes to follow. 



Published by JOSEPH KNIGHT COIPANT, Boston. 

99^ Any of the above works will be sent by niail^ postage prepaid, to 
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BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE 



FEATS ON THE FIORD. A tale of Norwegian life, by Harriet 
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1 vol., small quarto, cloth, gilt top $1.50 

This admirable book, read and enjoyed by so many young people a gen- 
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is something more than a juvenile book, being really one of the most instruc- 
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well deserving liberal illustration, and the luxury of good paper, print and 
binding now given to it. 

AN ARCHER WITH COLUMBUS. By Chas. E. Brimblecom, 

with about 50 illustrations from original pen-and-ink sketches. , 
I vol., i6mo, handsome cloth binding $i.25 

A capital story of a boy who attracted the attention of Columbus while he 
was seeking the aid of Ferdinand and Isabella, for his great voyage of dis- 
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great explorer, and he served as an archer on the vessel of Columbus. His 
loyalty and devotion, through vicissitude and danger, endeared him to his 
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The story is well told, crisply written, full of reasonable adventure and 
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A DOG OF FLANDERS. A Christmas Story. By Louisa de 

LA Ramb (Ouida). A new edition of a beautiful Christmas story, 
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I vol., small quarto, cloth, gilt top $1.50 

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1 vol., small quarto, cloth, gilt top $1.50 

TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE. By Charles and Mary 
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